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French Broad Association 



From the Organization of the Association in 1807 
to 1907, being a Period of 100 Years. 


Edwards & Broughton Printing Company, 



The following pages is but an Epitome of the His- 
tory of the French Broad Association. This is the 
hundredth year of its existence. The older brethren 
have passed away ; but one or two are left that know 
anything of the course of events for the last fifty 
years ; should these pass away without leaving some 
record many valuable facts will be lost without hope 
of recovery ; hence I have written. 

Begging pardon for the imperfection of the work, I 
pray that it may act as an incentive to the future his- 
torian, and be at least some help to him in compiling 
a more perfect history. 

I commit this work to God and the Brotherhood. 

The; Author. 


French Broad Association. 

Western North Carolina is an elevated plateau, situ- 
ated between the Blue Ridge Mountains on the east, 
and the Alleghany Mountains on the west. For sub- 
limity of scenery, this region is not surpassed but by 
few regions in all the world ; it is distinguished by the 
sobriquet of the Switzerland of America. Switzerland 
possesses the advantage of its snow-capped peaks and 
extended glaziers, but for variety and beauty of scenery 
Western North Carolina claims preeminence. This 
region embraces thirteen counties, lying almost alto- 
gether, west of the Blue Ridge, and having their towns 
located in the valleys lying between the Blue Ridge and 
the Alleghanies. 

The average altitude is about 2,500 feet above the 
level of the sea ; while many of the mountain peaks 
rise to more than 6,000 feet. The famous Mount 
Mitchel stands sentinel over all this region, towering 
to the height of 6,688 feet. This is the highest point 
east of the Rocky Mountains. Just where the first set- 
tlement was made is not certain, nor is it definitely 
known at what time; but it was not far from 1790, and 
must have been near where Asheville now stands, and 
probably on Gashes' Creek. All this western part of 
the State lay within the counties of Buncombe and 
Burke ; all that portion lying west and south of Toe 
River belonged to Buncombe, and it was sportively 
called the State of Buncombe ; it was somewhere in the 

6 History of French Broad Association. 

State of Buncombe that the first settlement was made. 
James Smith, who spent most of his life in the county, 
and who died in Asheville, was the first white child 
born west of the Blue Ridge. 

With the first settlers came the preacher of the gos- 
pel ; the pioneers in religious work were the Baptists 
and the Methodists — the Baptists taking the lead. Set- 
tlements were made in what is now Buncombe, Hender- 
son, Madison, Yancey, Mitchell and Haywood counties. 
The first settlements were located in the valleys and on 
the principal water-courses, and in each of these set- 
tlements a church was soon established. It is not defi- 
nitely known what church was first organized, but this 
belongs to Little Ivy, now in Madison County, or to 
French Broad, in Henderson County. 

Little Ivy was organized about 1796; who was its 
first pastor is not known to the writer. There was 
William Turner, of whom the old brethren used to 
speak, but little is known of him or his work, only that 
he preached at Little Ivy. David Blackwell was, prob- 
ably, the second pastor. 

Prior to 1807, churches had been organized at Little 
Ivy, French Broad, New Found, Locust Old Fields, 
Cane River, and Cane Creek. These six churches were, 
in 1807, organized into an Association, and called 
French Broad, after the name of the principal river of 
this region. 

Little Ivy, Locust Old Fields and New Found were 
constituent members of the Holsten Association in 
Tennessee, the others were dismissed from Broad River 
in South Carolina. The ministers which belonged to 
this body at its organization were Thos. Snelson, Thos. 
Justice, Sion Blythe, Benjamin King, Humphrey 

History of French Brood Association. 7 

Posey, and Stephen Morgan. None of these were men 
of culture, Posey being the only man among them who 
had obtained more than the bare elements of an Eng- 
lish education, but they were men of brain and brawn, 
and what counts for more, God had put them into the 
ministry — they had not run before they were sent, nor 
had they answered before they were called — they were 
devoted to the work of saving souls. 

These six churches were the leaven in the meal, dif- 
fusing itself through the whole mass of social order, 
so that wherever a settlement was established a church 
was planted. In a few years the number of churches 
was greatly increased. Among the first new churches 
were Bull Creek, River Hill, Flat Creek, Grassy Creek, 
Middle Fork, Big Ivy, Roan Mountain, Hominy, Old 
Salem, and Beula. 

These churches were scattered over what is now 
Buncombe, Henderson, Madison, Transylvania, Hay- 
wood, Yancey and Mitchell counties, and embraced in 
their membership most of the leading citizenship of the 
country, or several communities in which they were 
situated. It will be seen, therefore, that in these early 
churches religion possessed a moral grandeur, such as 
to commend it to the hearts and consciences of the peo- 
ple; it meant more than professing religion and joining 
the church, it meant a life separate from and above the 
men and ways of the world. It is true these early 
Christians labored under the disadvantages which a 
want of education and general culture always impose, 
but they were characterized by a rugged honesty and 
common sense, a native simplicity that made them scorn 
to do a mean thing; they were truly the salt of the 

8 History of French Broad Association. 

earth, a light in each dark place in which these churches 
were located. 

For want of a broader information and culture, ques- 
tions of order and doctrine were often arising, which 
occasioned confusion and sometimes divisions. The 
first of these of which the writer has any information 
arose in River Hill church, near where the town of 
Marshall now stands. The grounds of contention 
were at first a matter of discipline, but it soon took a 
doctrinal turn. This resulted in a division in the 
church, which gave rise to the establishment of Walnut 
Creek church, and the old church finally fell to pieces. 

This disturbance and division was created and led 
by Isaac Tillery, who was a preacher, and at the time 
of the trouble the pastor of the church. He became an 
Antinomian, and finally made shipwreck and went to 
the bad. Of the progress of the work for twenty years 
very little is known, as no records have been preserved, 
and the only facts available are matters of tradition, 
and much of this is not reliable. These older churches 
sent out colonies to form other churches, and in a few 
years other Associations were formed in the territory 
occupied by the original six. The first of these was 
the Tuckaseige. This Association embraced the 
churches in Haywood and Macon counties; since then 
the counties of Jackson, Swain, Graham and Cherokee 
have been created out of territory then lying within the 
limits of these counties. Locust Old Fields was em- 
braced in this Association. The next Association to 
be organized was the Salem, which was formed of 
churches in South Buncombe, and named for one of 
the oldest churches, known as Old Salem. This body 
increased till it became very strong. During its day it 

History of French Broad Association. 9 

embraced in its membership James Blythe, N. P. Corn, 
William Mintz, J. C. Owen, Joseph Blythe, J. H. Duck- 
worth, Tlios. Stradley, W. C. Berry and N. Bowen. 

James Blythe was an able minister; a little in ad- 
vance of most of his brethren in point of culture. His 
labors were principally confined to South Buncombe, 
and what is now Henderson and Transylvania counties. 
Few men ever had greater power over men; naturally 
impulsive, and being filled with the Holy Spirit, he 
preached as with the Holy Ghost sent down from God. 
In doctrine and spirit he impressed himself upon his 
people and his age, so that he had more to do in form- 
ing the character of the people, in the sphere of his 
labors, than any other person. He believed that Christ 
gave himself a Savior for all, to be testified in due 
time; hence he mightily pleaded with men to be recon- 
ciled to God. Many souls were added unto the Lord 
through his labors. Other leading spirits in this body 
were Thos. Stradley and N. Bowen : Stradley was an 
Englishman, and belonged to the Gill School of The- 
ology. His views and his persistent advocacy of them 
gave rise to controversy in this body which for a num- 
ber of years operated as a disturbing element. The 
next Association organized was Roan Mountain; it 
embraced most of the churches in the county of Yancey. 
Since that time the county of Mitchell has been formed, 
and embraces most of the churches in the organization. 
The leading spirit in this body was Stephen Collis. 

Collis w r as truly a man of God, he was happy in 
preaching the gospel of salvation, free to all ; he be- 
lieved in God's sovereignty, but also in man's free 
moral agency ; that God proposed to save all men 
through grace, but in order to be saved men must ac- 

io History of French Broad Association, 

cept the offered grace; in other words, the gospel is 
God's power to save every one that believes, but that 
man has the same power to reject that he has to be- 
lieve; he therefore urged sinners everywhere to yield 
themselves to Cod, in submission to his will. No man 
ever impressed himself upon his people and his time 
more than Stephen Colli s ; he was a leader among men, 
and the people followed him gladly. Some years have 
passed since his departure, but to one acquainted with 
Elder Collis it is remarkable how the Collis spirit lives 
in the lives of the people whom he led to Christ; he 
followed Christ and the people followed him. A 
deeper tone of piety is to be found in the churches 
where Collis labored than is to be found elsewhere in 
all this region. 

From the organization of the French Broad Associa- 
tion there had been more or less questioning about doc- 
trines and discipline ; all of the leading spirits were 
Calvinistic, but there were many minds that revolted 
at the sterner aspects of Calvinism. Men generally 
held to the idea of moral free agency, and were not 
able to see how it could be true that God, of His own 
sovereign grace, had chosen the heirs of salvation, and 
yet punishes unbelievers with everlasting banishment 
into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, could 
be a merciful and gracious sovereign, seeing he had 
left them in their sins to perish. These questions were 
taken up by the preachers and became, not only the 
grounds of contention and strife, but, in 1827, resulted 
in a division and the organization of the Big Ivy Asso- 
ciation. It was felt at the time that this division was 
a great calamity, and it gave rise to much bitterness 
and strife — the alienation of brethren, so that there was 

History of French Broad Association. II 

not a community where its effects were not more or 
less felt. The principal question of difference was the 
doctrine of Election. 

One party held that God, from eternity, had freely 
ordained whatsoever comes to pass, that Christ died 
for the Elect ; that these would he effectually called, 
sanctified and saved, while the rest would be left to 
perish in their blindness. As, almost always, in such 
cases, the parties went to extremes, those who advo- 
cated the doctrine of God's absolute sovereignty were 
often justly chargeable with being Antinomian. This 
was the result of ignorance, the advocates not being 
able to see the logical conclusion to which their reason- 
ing led. On the other hand, those who entertained the 
opposite view often found themselves floundering in 
the rankest Arminianism. 

The discussion of these subjects cleared away the 
mists, and after about twenty years the differences were 
adjusted and the opposing bodies were again united. 

The leading spirits in these disturbances were 
Stephen Morgan and Garret Deweese. The Deweese 
faction at first called themselves Free Willers ; this 
they did because they held that the salvation of any 
one depended upon the self-determining power of his 
own will. 

According to this view God, in the gift of His Son, 
had provided the means of salvation for all ; that this' 
salvation is freely offered to all through the gospel, 
and that sinners must, by the self-determining power 
of their own wills, uninfluenced and unaided by any 
other power than tl:u>gospel, choose life for themselves, 
and that those who do not thus choose for themselves 
must, as a moral sequence, perish. This was the ex- 

12 History of French Broad Association. 

treme view of the Arminians, and was in effect the 
rejection of the work of the Holy Spirit in the work of 
regeneration. True, they did not profess to do this, 
rather, they taught the necessity of regeneration by the 
spirit, but this was in contradiction of their theory. {All 
the preachers belonging to this body were intensely 
evangelical, they went everywhere preaching the word, 
and success attended their efforts ; churches increased 
in membership, new churches were planted, and the 
doctrines which they preached were generally held to 
be the doctrines of God's word.,. The Minutes of this 
body for 183 1 show that it embraced seven churches; 
while the Minutes for 1848, the last session but one, 
show that it had increased to twenty-five churches. The 
seven churches in 183 1 contained two hundred and 
thirty-three members, while the twenty-five churches 
contained seven hundred and thirty-two members. 

The ministers belonging to this body, the latter date, 
were S/Byrd, J. M. Bryant, J.'Midcalf, L. Buchannan, 
J. Buchannan, J. Arrowood, J. Silver, C. M. Phillips, 
W. C. Berry, T. J. Rollins, R. Deaver, Wm. Deweese, 
James Rhea, Jesse Rhea, J. Wheeler, M. Peterson, J. 
W. Aver, E. Chasteen, J. Gun, L. M. 'Berry and Wm. 
Sprinkle. Berry and Sprinkle were not ordained. 

It was the privilege of the writer to know most of 
these men. J. M. Bryant, W. C. Berry and J. M. Run- 
nion were men of some literary attainments, while L. 
M. Berry was, for that day, a scholarly man, and rose 
to eminence and distinction in the ministry. 

Most of them were noted for piety and for zeal and 
devotion to the Lord's work; and dying in good old 
age left their work to follow them for the glory of 
God. The Bi°: Ivy brethren were not heterodox as 

History of trench Broad Association. 13 

they have been represented, they were sounder than 
their creed, and the record shows that they were truly 
evangelical. They were charged with being Open- 
Communionists. In their vindication I refer to the 
Articles of Faith of this body : 

1. "We believe in one only true and living God; and 
notwithstanding there are three that bear record in 
heaven — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost — 
yet there is but one in substance, equal in power and 
glory, and can not be divided, either in principle or 
practice, and not liable to change. 

2. We believe the Old and New Testaments is the 
word of God, and a sufficiency is therein contained for 
our instruction, and they are the only rule of faith and 

3. We believe in the doctrine of Original sin, and 
that all mankind, since the fall? are by nature the chil- 
dren of Wrath, one as mu'ch^as another. 

4. We believe in man's impotency, or inability to 
recover himself out of the fallen state he is in, there- 
fore a Saviour is absolutely needed. 

5. We believe that sinners are Justified in the sight 
of God only by the imputed Righteousness of Jesus 

6. We believe in the Perseverance of the Saints in 
grace — that they are born again, or adopted into the 

amily of Heaven — that they become equal heirs with 
Jesus Christ, and that He will raise them up at the last 

7. We believe that Baptism and the Lord's Supper 
are gospel Ordinances and true believers the proper 
subjects, and we admit of no other knowingly. 

8. We believe that the true mode of Baptism is to 



14 History of French Broad Association. 

baptize or immerse a person, by their own consent, 
once in water, back foremost, in the name of the 
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. 

9. We believe in the resurrection of the dead and of 
a General Judgment, where all will be judged according 
to the deeds done in the body. 

10. We believe the punishment of the wicked will be 
Everlasting and the joys of the righteous will be Eter- 
nal after death. 

11. We believe washing one another's feet is a com- 
mand of Christ left with His disciples, and ought to be 
practiced by His followers. 

12. We believe that no one has a right to administer 
the Ordinances but such as are legally called and 
qualified thereunto. 

13. We believe it is the duty of all church members 
to attend their church meetings, and it is the duty of 
the church to deal with them for neglecting the same. 

14. We believe it is the duty of all church members 
to contribute to the support of the gospel and defray- 
ing all reasonable expenses of the church, never neg- 
lecting the poor, according to their several abilities. 

15. We believe that any doctrine that goes to en- 
courage or indulge people in their sins, or cause them 
to settle down on anything short of saving faith in 
Christ, for salvation, is erroneous, and all such doc- 
trines will be rejected by us. 

16. None of the above-named articles shall be so 
construed as to hold with Particular and Eternal Elec- 
tion and Reprobation, or so as to make God partial, 
either directly or indirectly, so as to injure any of the 
children of men/' Minutes of 1838. 

In 1849, a U differences were adjusted, and this As- 
sociation was merged into the French Broad. 

History of French Broad Association. 15 

The French Broad brethren had called themselves 
regular Baptists, thus insinuating that all others were 
irregular or schismatics. 

There had been controversies in the Baptist ranks 
from their first planting in the State. The Kehuka 
Association, which was the oldest, was a Calvinistic 
body, but it at first had belonged to the General Bap- 
tist, who were intensely Arminian, so much so that all 
that was necessary to obtain membership in a church 
was to profess to believe the Bible to be the word of 
God, and abstain from open immorality. To them the 
new birth or regeneration was a great mystery as it 
was to Nicodemus. Those who protested against this 
state of things separated themselves from them and 
formed other bodies, hence they were called Separate 

These elements of controversy had gone into every 
community where the Baptists had gone, and so at an 
early day they developed in the French Broad Associa- 
tion. Stephen Morgan was a leader among his people ; 
he was a man of a rugged mold, physically, intellectu- 
ally and morally. Was a man of strong convictions and 
decisive in character — a radical rather than conserva- 
tive. He embraced the Calvinistic views with all the 
ardor of his soul. This gave offense to those who en- 
tertained different views ; and as these questions were 
agitated they gave rise to contentions which resulted in 

Just what Morgan's views were is at this day un- 
known, but he held and taught the doctrine of Election, 
i. e., that God, from all eternity, chose some men to 
Eternal Life, without any regard to faith or good 
works ; that these would be Called, Sanctified and 

1 6 History of French Broad Association. 

Saved ; that the rest were Reprobates, and were doomed 
to Eternal Damnation; that the number of the saved 
was fixed and determined, and could neither be added 
to nor diminished. 

These differences drove the brethren asunder, and 
the bitterness was such that persons living in the same 
community would have but little intercourse with each 

Deweese was charged with heresy, or false doctrine ; 
and with the assistance of Morgan and a few others 
from other churches was, by a minority of his church, 
excluded; but the great majority of his church stood 
by him and followed his lead. 

To be a Freewiller was enough to make one odious, 
with all who followed Morgan, so that churches meet- 
ing in the same community had no fellowship with 
each other and but little intercourse among their mem- 
bers. Criminations and recriminations were the order 
of the day, and often became sources of scandal. On 
the other hand, Morgan and his followers were called 
Antinomians, and their doctrines were believed to be 
the doctrines of devils. 

In the course of time these passions, in a measure, 
subsided, and brethren began, in a more teachable 
spirit, to discuss these questions of difference, and to 
their amazement found that they were not so far apart 
as they had imagined. They all alike believed in the 
doctrine of the Trinity. The Deweese party said in 
their Confession of Faith : "We believe in One Living 
and True God — the Father, the Son, and the Holy 
Ghost — yet there is but one substance, equal in power 
and glory." This vindicated them from the charge of 
A nanism. They accepted the Old and New Testa- 

History of French Broad Association. 17 

ments as the word of God, and the only rule of Faith 
and Practice. They believed in the doctrine of Original 
sin ; that all mankind were lost by the fall ; that man- 
kind was powerless to recover itself from its lost es- 
tate; that a Saviour was absolutely necessary; that sin- 
ners are justified only by the imputed Righteousness 
of Christ ; they also held to the doctrine of the Perse- 
verance of Saints. Finally it dawned upon them that 
the chief difference between them consisted in their use 
and interpretation of terms. 

In the Minutes for 1847 we ^ n< ^ this query from 
Gabriel's Creek Church : "Inasmuch as the doctrine 
held by the United Baptists, which we protested 
against, has measurably subsided, would it be gospel 
order to invite those of that body which agree with us 
in sentiment to the Communion Table?". "Answer : 
We think it would." 

At the session of 1847 correspondence was offered 
to French Broad, andlElders S. Byrd and J. M. Bryan 
were sent as messengers. 

This correspondence^ was accepted by the French 
Broad at its session in 1848, held at Grassy Creek, in 
Yancey County, and Elders Robert Pattison, Wm. 
Keith, D. W. Murry, H. W. Gilbert, and brethren 
James Wilson, Thos. Runnion, J. P. Edwards, A. Jer- 
vis, and May Jervis were appointed as messengers to 
Big Ivy Association. \ The next year the union was 
effected, and the two associations became one under the 
name of French Broad,. 

Thus far I have treated of facts connected with the 
Big Ivy Association and its progress, because I had 

iS History of French Broad Association. 

access to the Minutes of that body; I now turn to trace 
the course of events in the French Broad. 

During twenty years the work had greatly prospered 
under the guiding hands of French Broad's ministry; 
the churches had increased in membership, new 
churches had been established in other communities, 
and it had become a great host. The churches in Hay- 
wood had been dismissed to form the Tuckaseige As- 
sociation; in 1838 the churches in South Buncombe and 
Henderson County had been dismissed to form Salem 
Association. The churches embraced in the French 
Broad at this date were Little Ivy, New Found, French 
Broad, Cane River, Cane Creek, Mud Creek, Flat 
Creek, Hominy, Roan Mountain, Beula, Ebinezer, Bull 
Creek, Grassy Creek, Big Ivy, Bethlehem, Mount 
Pleasant, Walnut Creek, New Bethany, Crab Creek, 
Mill's River, and Pine Creek, twenty churches. The 
churches dismissed were Cane Creek, New Bethany, 
Ebinezer, Crab Creek, Beula, French Broad, Mill's 
River, Mount Pleasant, and Mud Creek, nine churches, 
which left eleven in the old body, all north and west 
of Asheville. 

The ministers belonging to the body at this time were 
David Blackwell, Moses Freeman, Peter Miller, Baily 
Bruce, Stephen Morgan, Robert Jordan, James Blythe, 
Wm. Rees, Jesse Ammons, Luke L. Branson, Robert 
Pattison, Thos. Stradley, John Cantril and Merrit 
Rickman, fourteen ministers and twenty churches. 
None of these men had more than a mere smattering 
of an English education, but each of them was pos- 
sessed of a good share of sound common sense, and 
were fully consecrated to the work of preaching the 

History of French Broad Association. 19 

The churches belonging to the French Broad Asso- 
ciation in 1848, the year before the Union, and prob- 
ably at the time of the Union, were Little Ivy, New 
Found, Flat Creek, Roan Mountain, Bull Creek, Grassy 
Creek, Big Ivy, Bethlehem, Walnut Creek, Pine Creek, 
Macedonia, Tow River, Bear Creek, Big Laurel, Rock 
Creek, Flag Pond, Low Gap, and Lynnville, eighteen 
churches. The ministers were Wm. Keith, P. Miller, 
P. Parham, J. Parham, Stephen Morgan, Wm. Rees, 
L. L. Branson, Robert Pattison, H. Gilbert, M. Free- 
man, S. R. Miller, Thos. Wilson, Stephen Collis, 
Stephen Wallen, James Hooker, J. Martin, and D. W. 
Murray, seventeen in all; the number of preachers al- 
most corresponding with the number of churches, but 
some of these brethren were about laid aside by reason 
of age. The progress of the work, after the consolida- 
tion, was very satisfactory; there were brethren in 
both bodies who had labored very hard to effect a re- 
conciliation. Now that this was consummated it gave 
great impetus to the work ; revivals were held in many 
of the churches, and they grew and prospered as never 
before. The preachers helped each other in these meet- 
ings ; sometimes a half dozen or more preachers co- 
operated in these meetings ; there was no rivalry, but 
complete harmony and co-operation, their labors were 
greatly blessed, the old spirit of strife was dead, and 
hundreds were added unto the churches : it was a beau- 
tiful illustration of "How good and pleasant it is to 
see brethren dwell together in unity." Where there 
were two churches in the same community they united 
and formed one church, sometimes taking the name of 
the Big Ivy Church, and at others that of the Frnech 
Broad. Bethlehem, of French Broad, and Cane River, 

^o H:sto r \ or trench Broad Association. 

of Big Ivy. united and became Cane River, while 
Liberty and Big- Ivy became Big Ivy. thus proving 
that the Union was sincere and permanent. 

The French Broad brethren, in their great zeal and 
anxiety for harmony and peace, committed a very seri- 
ous blunder in agreeing to incorporate into the Consti- 
tution of the amalgamated body the following article: 
"This Association will discountenance and repudiate 
the doctrine of particular, personal, unconditional, and 
eternal election and reprobation." Some of the breth- 
ren were dissatisfied with this, and it was discussed 
fro::: time to time, but no one had moral courage to 
attack it. At the Association at Flag Pond in 1SS1 
Rev. John Amnions called the matter up. and moved to 
strike it out of the Constitution. After some discus- 
sion and debate over the matter it was by a very satis- 
factory vote expunged, and a cause of reproach re- 
moved. The Association now stands as holding to the 
doctrine of Modern Calvinism, or the views of Fuller. 
rather than Gill. 

The union of the two bodies was followed by a re- 
vival of religion throughout the territory occupied by 
the two associations, and it was wonderful to see the 
brethren laboring in these meetings as 1 sweet-spirited 
as if there had never existed anv diner ences anions 

In September. 1S54. a meeting was held at Little 
Ivy by Rev. Wm. Keith, die pastor, and a leader in the 
French Broad, and Rev. James BIythe, a leader in the 
opposing faction, that was wonderful in its results. At 
the close 01 about ten days there were sixty-five per- 
s:ns baptized into the fellowship of the church. From 
this meetine the revival soread to other churches and 

History of French Broad Association. 21 

communities till it became general throughout the As- 
sociation, and hundreds were added unto the churches. 
This Association since the union has been peculiarly 
distinguished by the spirit oi evangelism. In 1848 the 
Union Association had been organized, and about 
seven churches had been dismissed from Big Ivy to be- 
come members of this new body. 

The number of churches in the consolidation was 
thirty-seven, with a membership of 1,592, These 
churches were scattered over the territory now em- 
braced in North Buncombe. Madison. Yancey and 
Mitchell counties. In October, 1849, Roan Mountain, 
Grassy Creek, Bear Creek, Rock Creek, Tow River, 
Beaver Creek, Cranbury, Laurel Branch, Ramsay 
Town, Jack's Creek, and Crab Tree were dismissed to 
enter into the organization of the Roan [Mountain As- 
sociation. This reduced the number of churches re- 
maining in the French Broad to twenty-six, with a 
membership of 1,204, anc l i ts territory very much re- 

The Roan Mountain was quite a strong body from 
the beginning, embracing several churches which bad 
been organized during the year, or had been heretofdfre 
unassociated. The number of members embraced in 
the organization was 666. The following named min- 
isters, whose names appear in the Minutes of the new 
Association, belonged to French Broad after its amal- 
gamation with Big Ivy, viz: S. Byrd. L. Buchannan, 
J. Buchannan, J. Arrowood, J. Silver, James Rhea, 
Jesse Rhea, J. Wheeler, Moses Peterson, J. W. Aver, 
Thos. Wilson, and S. M. Collis. All of these except 
Thos. Wilson and S. M. Collis had belonged to the Big 
Ivv Association. There had been a tendency on the 

22 History of French Broad Association. 

part of some brethren to practice Open Communion, 
and some of the churches had been impregnated with 
this leaven. At the time of the union they opposed it, 
and had shown a spirit of discontent, and at the or- 
ganization of the Roan Mountain Association they be- 
gan to push their views to the front. At the second 
session of this body, says the Minutes, "The subject 
of Open Communion was discussed, and the following 
resolution was adopted, viz : Resolved, That this As- 
sociation do, in the spirit of meekness, advise those 
churches which have been practicing Open Communion 
to desist from the practice, as we think it involves 
inconsistency to retain such church, or churches, a 
member, or members, who practice the same." Hist., 
page 2. 

In 1 85 1 we find this statement in the History of this 
Association : 

"Resolution. Inasmuch as Ramsay Town, Jack's 
Creek, New Liberty, Pine Grove, and Crooked Creek 
churches have withdrawn from this Association, and 
have become a distinct body, by the name of the Tow 
River Freewill Christian Communion Baptists, there- 
fore this Association withdraws from the said churches 
and is no more accountable for them." 

This question had been an element of disturbance in 
the Big Ivy Association, and the body had put itself on 
record as sound on the question in their Confession 
of Faith, Art. VII : "We believe that Baptism and the 
Lord's Supper are gospel Ordinances, and true be- 
lievers the proper subjects, and we admit of no others, 

In the Minutes for 1841 we find this: "Query from 
Tow River. Why do not all Christians commune to- 

History of French Broad Association. 23 

gether? Is there no chance by gospel order? Answer 
deferred to a future period." 

This shows that the Association was not committed 
to the practice of Open Communion, and there is no 
evidence that it had ever been practiced — except it may 
have been, to a limited extent, by churches under the 
influence of John Wheeler and Moses Peterson. I have 
inserted these facts because the Free Will Baptists set 
up the claim that they are the same as the Big Ivy Bap- 
tists. Wheeler and Peterson were unwise leaders, and 
the Free Will Church, of which Wheeler was the head, 
was conceived in heresy and brought forth in schism 
and faction. It seems to have always shunned the 
light, and is to-day to be found in corners and dark 
places. There has never been a leader of superior in- 
telligence among them; they are only distinguished by 
their low views of the doctrines of Sovereign Grace, 
their unstability of Christian character, and the Chris- 
tian profession, and their advocacy of Open Commun- 
ion. There is not the slightest similarity between them 
and the Big Ivy brethren. 

The first notice which we have of the missionary 
question we find in the Minutes of French Broad in 
1848. There we have this item : 

"Notice the missionary question, and finding that all 
the churches in our Association are not hearty in this 
matter, we agree to refer it until our next session, hop- 
ing our brethren may consider this matter and give 
liberty of conscience on either hand." Min. 1848. 

Whether any notice was taken of it in 1849 I know 
not, not having the Minutes of that session; but it is 
an indisputable fact that immediately after the union 
that the Association began to do missionary work in 

24 History of French Broad Association. 

its own bounds, and very soon began to contribute to 
Foreign and Domestic (now Home) Missions. 

An amusing incident is told of David Blackwell. In 
1846, the Western Baptist Convention (auxiliary to 
the Baptist State Convention) was formed, and Elder 
James Kimsey was sent to visit the churches in the 
French Broad Association. He came to Bull Creek, 
where Blackwell was pastor. Blackwell refused to al- 
low him to preach to his congregation. After discuss- 
ing the matter at some length with his deacons and the 
preachers he consented to let him preach if he, Black- 
well, was allowed to open the services. To this Kimsey 
assented. The people assembled, and Blackwell pro- 
ceeded to read and sing a hymn, after which he knelt 
in prayer, and thus he prayed: u O Lord have mercy 
upon us ; what shall we do ! The missionaries are 
upon us !" It was believed then, by most of the breth- 
ren, that the missionary scheme was purely mercenary, 
and that the missionary was a money hunter. But 
these narrow views soon began to give way, and now 
for more than fifty years the French Broad Association 
has been a missionary body. 

The subject of temperance, from about 1850, began 
to receive a due share of attention. It was about this 
time that Gabriel's Creek Church sent up a query to 
the Association which called forth this deliverance : 
"We advise the churches of this Association not to re- 
tain in membership persons who make, vend, or use 
intoxicating liquors, except for medical or mechanical 
purposes." This was taking high ground for that day, 
but the Association, at each annual meeting until now, 
has thrown the whole of its influence in favor of strict 
temperance. It was about 1850 that the Sunday school 

History of French Broad Association. 25 

work began to receive some attention. The first school 
established was at Gabriel's Creek, about 1853. This 
school, with slight intervals, has continued up to the 
present time, 1907, being over fifty years old. The 
Sunday school work took on no distinctive face for a 
number of years. It was a good place to gather the 
children on Sunday, where they could be kept out of 
mischief, and it also afforded some literary advantages, 
and it was no uncommon thing to see children come 
to the Sunday school with the Blue-back Speller, or a 
child's primer. But the religious idea soon got the as- 
cendancy, and as the Sunday School Union had intro- 
duced its work most of the schools were Union schools. 
In these schools, by common consent, all questions of 
doctrinal difference among Christians were excluded. 
It will be seen, therefore, that everything fundamental 
to vital Christianity was debarred from these schools. 
A Sunday School Convention was organized and called 
the "Ivy Union Sunday School Convention, " and most 
of the preachers in the French Broad Association be- 
came leaders in this movement. This body met annu- 
ally, and the brethren, for three days, had a good time 
discussing questions of morals and plans of work. At 
each of these gatherings there was more or less preach- 
ing, but nothing to indicate whether the preacher was 
Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Campbellite, or 
Baptist; truly it was easy sailing, except for the pains 
that had to be taken to avoid giving offense. This 
condition of things continued without a break or check 
till 1869. In that year Rev. John Ammons suggested 
a change in the work, that it be made more objective 
and denominational. Strange as it may appear it pre- 
cipitated a fierce controversy which continued for sev- 

26 History of French Broad Association. 

eral years. Amnions stood almost alone in advocacy 
of denominational schools, and his fiercest opposers 
were found among the preachers. Only two or three 
of the preachers stood with him and had the courage 
to face the storm and advocate what they believed to 
be right and according to truth. L. L. Branson was 
outspoken ; J. W. Hooker was with Amnions in his 
convictions, but took no active part in the discussions ; 
W. T. Bradley was then young in the ministry and 
for some time took no part in the controversy, but soon 
lined up on the side of his own church. Among the 
older preachers there were none found to stand for 
their own church and its doctrines in this conflict save 
L. L. Branson, H. W. Gilbert, and Jesse Whitt. 

The conflict was carried on quite fiercely, especially 
by Amnions' opponents, and at the session of the Asso- 
ciation held at Little Ivy Church in 1871 there was a 
combined effort made to crush Amnions. No fiercer 
contest ever transpired in the Association than this. 
Every minister, save two, were against Amnions, and 
all this before he had had a word; it was a carefully 
prepared battle, and can probably be partly accounted 
for from the fact that he had dealt very severely with 
the advocates of Union Sunday schools. But he faced 
the ordeal like one conscious that he was in the right, 
and when the Association came to vote on the question 
which gave rise to the debate he won the day by a de- 
cided majority. The sturdy old-fashioned Baptists set 
their veto on those who would lead them, and thus re- 
buked them for their want of denominational firmness. 
From this time the Sunday school work became more 
Baptistic. The immediate occasion of this controversy 
was that Rev. D. B. Nelson, a Baptist minister, was 

History of French Broad Association, 27 

laboring in Western N. C. under the appointment of 
the American Sunday School Union. He was an able 
minister, and regarded as a leader in the denomination. 
He looked at it, no doubt, from a business standpoint ; 
his living was from the sale of his books, and the num- 
ber of schools he organized and visited, most of the 
schools were in Baptist churches, should these with- 
draw their patronage it would seriously interfere with 
his business. He, therefore, set himself with might 
and main to oppose and defeat the movement. 

He and Amnions had a sharp newspaper discus- 
sion over the matter, and most people said that Nelson 
was only second best in the war of words; joined with 
him was Rev. N. Bowen, a man of considerable ability 
and broad culture. Both of these brethren threw the 
whole weight of their influence against the movement, 
with the advantage of having a newspaper at their com- 
mand, for Bowen was then publishing a paper at 
Hendersonville, N. C. Neither of these brethren were 
members of French Broad Association. Nelson visited 
the Association and encouraged the opposition, but it 
only made the victory more complete, for the effect of 
the controversy was felt more or less throughout 
Western N. C, and greatly helped in lining our peo- 
ple up in support of a Sunday school work that had a 

The controversy was in some sense to be deplored, 
because it operated as a bar to hearty co-operation be- 
tween those who differed on this question ; yet when 
the question was settled those who had differed came 
out of the smoke of battle friends, and worked together 
as if they had always agreed; and the ultimate result 
was one of s^reat good to the cause of truth and right- 

28 History of French Broad Association. 

eousness. It had caused our people to study the Sun- 
day school problem, and led them to see that Sunday 
school work was but a department of church work, 
and that there is the same argument for Union 
Churches that there is for Union Sunday Schools, 

In the year 1855, the New Found Association was 
organized at Flat Creek in Buncombe County. The 
following churches were dismissed from French Broad 
to enter into this new organization, viz : Flat Creek, 
Turkey Creek, New Found, Bethel, in Buncombe 
County, and Bear Creek, Spring Creek, and Little 
Mountain, in Madison County. 

The territory of the Association then embraced that 
part of Madison County northeast of the French Broad 
River, a portion of Yancey County, with two or three 
churches in Tennessee. What its numerical strength 
was is not known to the writer, having no Minutes of 
that time. 

From the union of the French Broad and Big Ivy 
Associations there had been continual growth and in- 
crease till the beginning of the war in 1861. Churches 
had been organized at Upper Laurel, East Fork, Mar's 
Hill, and Ivy Gap, and the old churches had increased 
in membership and efficiency. The session for 1861 
was held with the church at Cane River ; it was a time 
of intense excitement ; the war feeling was running 
very high ; the people were divided in sentiment ; most 
of the brethren favored secession, and were supporters 
of the war, but some very good brethren entertained 
adverse sentiments, and were opposed to the war; this 
gave rise to much bitterness of feeling and evil sur- 
misings. Rev. H. W. Gilbert was a Union man, and 
to those of the adverse sentiments he was a dangerous 

History of French Broad Association. 29 

and suspicious character. Win. Ray, Berry Duyck and 
Baylus Gardner entered into an agreement to make 
Rev. Gilbert pray for Jeff Davis and the Confederacy, 
or ride him on a rail. 

Prayer-meeting was appointed for Sunday morning, 
and the aforementioned gentlemen waited on Rev. 
John Amnions to tell him of their plans and give him 
directions for conducting the prayer-meeting; while 
they would be on hand to note events and act accord- 
ingly. But Amnions was not the man to be either led 
or intimidated. He told them that he thought that he 
understood his own business, and needed no special 
directions from them. The Sunday morning prayer- 
meeting was conducted by Ammons, and managed in 
such a way as to save the old brother from insult and 
injury. Saving this incident the session was harmoni- 
ous and pleasant. During the war and for some years 
after the work was retarded and languished, and little 
more was done than to maintain the organization in- 
tact. True, immediately after the war there were re- 
vivals in most of the churches, and a large increase in 
membership, but the country was in ruin, property de- 
stroyed, fields laid waste, and church-houses dilapi- 
dated, so that it required some years to regain, in a 
temporal view, what had been lost. 

The work of missions received some attention ; Sun- 
day schools were maintained in most of the churches; 
education and temperance were promoted and fostered. 
After the money crisis of 1872-3 there came a time of 
material prosperity before unknown ; farming was stim- 
ulated and improved, and every line of industry gave 
ample return for the labor and capital invested, and 
wealth increased with a bound. 

3<d History of French Broad Association. 

The churches partook of the spirit of enterprise and 
progress and materially advanced along all lines ; better 
houses of worship were erected, contributions for mis- 
sions and other benevolent purposes raised in many 
churches, and as a rule the churches began to pay their 
pastors more, and which now they began to call salary, 
for prior to 1850 such thing as salary for a Baptist 
pastor was unknown. 

It was by a slow process that the Baptists of French 
Broad came to recognize the obligation to give their 
pastors a decent support; and even at this time there 
are many that seem never to have discovered this 
duty. Tell them that the Holy Ghost has said, "They 
that preach the gospel shall live of the gospel;" and 
they were ready with an interpretation, to set aside its 
force, "God will take care of His servants/' as if they 
expected Him to feed the preacher as He fed the tribes 
on the Exodus, or Elijah by the brook Cherith. But 
such is unsanctified human nature. No doubt it arises 
more from covetousness and meanness of spirit than 
from ignorance of duty. 

During the last twenty-five years the brotherhood has 
been taking a lively interest in education, and at this 
time it is a rare thing to find in Baptist families chil- 
dren ten years of age that can not read, and there is a 
growing tendency to demand a larger share of culture 
in the ministry. 

The demand has not been for men of the schools — 
college men — as for men of reading; men who have 
been called of God, and then under a sense of their 
obligation to make the most and the best of themselves, 
have, it may be, under adverse conditions, developed 
into men of wonderful power. The attitude in which 

History of French Broad Association. 31 

the churches stand to an educated ministry is not one 
of opposition to schools and colleges, these they esteem 
as necessary and proper in their place; but many wise 
and cautious brethren think there is danger ahead; 
they think they see a tendency to substitute culture for 
a Divine call, rather making the ministry a profession, 
and not a Divine calling. These Baptists believe that 
God can take a man from the plow, from the work- 
shop, from the anvil, from the counting-room, and ac- 
complish His purpose with him, and that the Spirit's 
presence is of more importance than human learning. 
The schools have no authority than that accorded to 
them by common consent; the dictum of one school is 
denied by another, but the voice of the Spirit is always 
the same, and His authority is supreme: education is 
a good thing, but grace is of infinitely greater worth. 
The Association is now confined to that portion of 
Madison County east of the French Broad River, with 
one church in Buncombe County. It now contains 
2,788 members. 

While it has been doing something for the support 
of missions, it was comparatively little, but at the last 
session, 1906, it was resolved to try to raise enough to 
support a missionary on the field (foreign), and a 
large portion was secured by pledges. 

A number of Woman's Missionary societies have 
also been formed and have been doing good work, and 
the indications are that the body is becoming thor- 
oughly imbued with the spirit of missions. Little Ivy 
is the oldest church in the body, if not the oldest in the 
West, and many of its members, laymen, are worthy 
of special mention. In its earlier days it contained E. 
Amnions, John Ammons, May Holcombe, Jabez Jervis, 

32 History of French Broad Association. 

and these were followed by John George, Robert 
Ponder, Absalom Hooker, Abner, May, and Rezi Jer- 
vis, and John Ramsay. These men were noted in their 
day, men of whom it might be justly said, "They were 
epistles of Christ, read and known of all men." They 
carried their religion into every-day life, and wielded a 
wholesome influence in every sphere in which they 
moved. Absalom Hooker was a wonderful man ; plain, 
common sense, candid, matter-of-fact; piety was with 
him no ostentation, it was a benediction to a home to 
have him visit it ; he was not a man of learning, yet he 
was learned in the Scriptures, to him the Scriptures 
was the only rule of Faith and Practice. It is not to 
be wondered at that in these older churches, with such 
men at the helm, that the strictest discipline was main- 
tained. Everybody in those days drank intoxicating 
liquors, but woe to the Baptist that drank to intoxica- 
tion; he was always excluded for the second offense. 

These men believed that the church ought to be pure, 
and that it was their business to keep it pure ; they had 
an exalted idea of what it was to be a Christian and a 
member of the church. 

They maintained that none could come into the 
church but through the new birth and baptism, hence 
they insisted on and demanded an intelligent profes- 
sion of faith, which consisted in a verbal statement 
before the church of the way by which they had been 
led to cease from sin and to embrace Christ, that is, 
believe on Him. 

Sometimes these experiences partook of the ludi- 
crous, but this could be accounted for partly from 
superstition, every little incident being magnified and 
held to be a divine manifestation, and partly from the 

History of French Broad Association. 33 

ignorance of the times. Few persons could read the 
Scriptures, and even those who could read knew little 
of the meaning of words, or the interpretation of lan- 
guage; but out of all this confusion of ideas and un- 
avoidable ignorance they managed to get the mind of 
the Spirit, and were genuine, spiritual-minded Chris- 
tians. There is quite a contrast between churches of 
that time and those of the present day. 

John Ramsay was another noted character in his 
day; he was a man of rugged build, both physically 
and mentally, and his religious life partook of the same 
rugged character. With him to be a Christian meant 
separation from the world, a living in the world and 
yet living above it ; he carried his matter-of-fact re- 
ligion into every-day life and his power for good was 
felt and known in every circle in which he moved. He 
was one of the most devoted and successful workers 
in revival meetings the writer ever knew. Bull Creek 
Church was one of the oldest, and in its membership 
were found Levi Baily, David Edwards, John Allen, 
Lewis Bryan and David Peek. From these sprang a 
numerous progeny, noted for their staid religious lives. 
The Peeks and Bryans were noted for their steadfast 
religious faith and godly lives ; such men are an honor 
to any country and any time. It is a sad reflection that 
the children of these godly men and women have not 
maintained the honor of their families unstained; some 
of their offspring have shown themselves to be degen- 
erate plants of a strange vine: and yet these old 
churches are, many of them, made up of the descend- 
ants of these noble men of God. 

Wm. Peek, son of David, entered the ministry, but 
his career was cut short by disease. After a painful 

34 History of French Broad Association. 

and lingering attack of rheumatism he passed away in 
midlife, and left a noble record behind him. Plat 
Creek Church was one of the first organized after the 
Association was established. Stephen Morgan was in 
the organization and was its pastor till he became too 
feeble to preach; his pastorate here continued over 
forty years. In the membership of this church was 
found Thos. Gentry, Noah Morgan, Stephen Morgan, 
Jun, Rezin Davis, Jesse Gentry, and John Bell ; these 
men were devoted Christians, and did much to shape 
the course of events in the church and in their com- 
munity. Noah Morgan was far in advance of his day 
in aiding and promoting every enterprise for the up- 
building of the church or community; no man was 
ever more beloved by those who knew him. Big Ivy was 
made up of Big Ivy, of French Broad, and Liberty, of 
Big Ivy Association; it contained John Greenwood, 
Thos. Dillingham, Solomon Carter, J. A. Buckner, 
Pleas. Hurst, John Hurst, Joseph McKinney, and Hen- 
son Carson. Solomon Carter was a prince among men, 
in a long life he seldom missed his church meeting, 
and was absent from the communion service but once 
in forty years. Middle Fork was one of the churches 
that followed the lead of Deweese; the most distin- 
guished of its members was Daniel Carter. The divis- 
ion had been to him a source of much unhappiness, and 
for twenty years he had labored to bring peace to 
troubled Zion, and had told his brethren that he was 
praying the Lord to let him live to see the breaches all 

The union between the two bodies was effected at 
Flat Creek on Saturday, September . . . ., 1849. Bro - 
Carter was present as a representative of Big Ivy, and 

History of French Broad Association. 35 

gave his vote and influence in favor of the union. He 
returned to his home that night happy in the realiza- 
tion of his ardent prayers, and during the night he 
joined the Association above.* He was found next 
morning in his bed dead. Without a groan and with- 
out a struggle he had passed to rest. 

Gabriel's Creek Church was established by the De- 
weese faction, as it did not exist at the time of the 
division ; it has always been distinguished for the 
purity of its membership. Among the first members 
were John Fox, Daniel Buckner, Matthew Lewis and 
Geo. and William S. Sprinkle; some years after Lewis 
Palmer came from Ivy to this church. Palmer was a 
great and good man, modest and unpretentious; his 
power for good w T as felt in every circle in which he 
moved. He was an advocate for what made for right- 
eousness, but he hated shams and frauds and sin with 
perfect hatred. 

Palmer had a high Christian ideal ; with him to be a 
Christian was to be a new man ; the time past, to him, 
was enough to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, 
to have lived in lust, revelry, drunkenness and abomi- 
nable idolatries, the law of life and freedom from sin, 
through Christ Jesus, was the rule of Christian life. 
He was a leader in the temperance reform, and the 
first step in the temperance movement in the French 
Broad Association was occasioned by a query from 
Gabriel's Creek Church to the session of 185 1, asking 
what course should be pursued by the church with 
members who manufactured, sold or used ardent 
spirits, except for medical or mechanical purposes. The 
Association advised that they be expelled. This high 


;:io\v k * y r's**yQ orv;j ^jv,vwftk>w. 

£roi:: J ,d m*\ !K v ,\MVibie y\vdt:or tAker b\ the Assoeu*- 
rkxt n\a> due to the ;m>«erful rrdueitee of rAhner. 

l\ji>.:;er \\ as better vxx-^ed w\ rtAt:er> of hi>:\>r\ s*%i 
ev;est:o*:> of doccriue u\m au\ ocker !uHju k* :he Asso- 
e\*:*e;u Aud h;> .sooice w,s> widehv sorcht on :\\\ ques- 
tions of d^! Artor*: brethren. He was a great 
soadeiu of hi;«r,Au *uum\ m\£ took ^rejie delight m 
reAdtvg :reu; he was ro c;«k\ seAtvhirg for ir«rhs, but 
rather th.At he rrght trod some rraiseworthy trsk; he 
hwed trtuh Ard strnr'e houe.^n . are. was always pleased 
v- her, he d:*vV% ered something :u ore worthy to be 
eernrerded. He "ovod the hrethretr loveci :he rx\xvk\ 
a:ul took deag^:: rt rtaking ethers harry; he saw m 
the crsrH :he oro rarAeeA for sin And hwraa 8L> 
And ht> e:ref heoer:re>> he ferrd ra efforts to extend 
rs eencrests .r,'d trrrtvrhs Hr- memory aiul noMe 
're eceames :he rh-<ee of honor in the Affections of 
these who \rev- 4 him — , : , he was widely ki*owtrt. Oh 
r. cw v*» c rrss mm. 

'h-rc the dee^ste from 1S50 to \>CO churches were 
ergam rod At Hrrrr m-oare*. has* Fork of B%*4* Creek. 
ard Mars Hm 

Kast Keck was ercamred m the midst of ft k\ige of 
^ ?r>\mc^r,"g mrrntAms, wrh a membership, few m 
rrm-oers hrt strong tr character Among rhern wms 
"ehr Kar *soo .r-.d vofe, xox\, \dm Smith And wife, 
Kkraoeth. \hsalcm : locker And wife. Miry, Anna 
reck. \hr Ammors and wife. S,dhe, ^rd I^bei R 
rre^rer, voc w.r- <oet; Added h) ho.rr*:?;;:, Xo chirrch 
c^^er >r.rrted with oetter rre.?o*et5. ^o far as :he d:Aj~ 
A.ter of ts rt;;rh;rs ;< vVreer,ted; thev ^^ere boM ^ol~ 
d>cr> ef :hc cre^>. re^do. for every cood word Aixi work* 

The er.rreh At \ f Ar< hd wa? we^k :r i;r:;:ber<. 

History of I 'ranch I 'road Association. 37 

composed of the leading families in the community, it 
started on its career with favorable prospects. Num- 
bered anion^ its members were K. Carter and wife, J. 
W. Anderson and wife, John Radford and wife, and 
Eliza Ray; T. VV. Ray was added afterwards by bap- 
tism. The growth of the church was slow, and during 
the war of 1801-5 it was almost annihilated. 

Just after the war a meeting was held by Rev. Jacob 
Wild and Rev. Levi Dewecsc, with good results; quite 
a number were converted and added to the church, and 
Dewcese was called to the care of the church. De- 
weese was a man strong in character and devotion, but 
weak in point of ability as a preacher; he was rather 
an exhorter, but the people were easily suited; they 
were hungry for the gospel, and Dewcese did, for two 
years, a good work, and the church was much strength- 
ened. After him was Rev. J. VV. Anderson, for some 
years, then came Rev. L. W. Sams, who continued 
with the church till about 1889; he was succeeded by 
Rev. T. M. 1 foneycutt. 

During the pastorate of L. W. Sams he engaged Rev. 
John Amnions to aid him in a meeting, and a brother 
Taylor, from Kentucky, came in with them. It 
was a wonderful meeting, resulting in about forty 
additions to the church. Pastor Sams said to the 
writer several years after, "The meeting which you and 
liro. Taylor held was the best meeting Mars Hill ever 
had, it was the beginning of Mars Hill's upbuilding." 
Honeycutt's pastorate was for a time very successful, 
but at last began to drag and he resigned. He was suc- 
ceeded by Rev. S. W. Hall for one year ; the church 
marie no progress under his administration. Rev. W. 
E. Wilkins followed him, but after a few months re- 

38 History of French Broad Association. 

tired, and was succeeded by Rev. W. H. Woodall. 
Woodall was a scholarly man, a learned theologian and 
a good preacher, but under his administration the 
church fell to pieces and made no progress. He re- 
signed, and John Amnions, one of the native preachers, 
was invited to hold a meeting of days. The meeting 
developed into a wonderful revival in which the church 
was brought together; the old brethren and sisters 
from the country flocked to the meeting and remained 
day and night for a week; the result was forty-nine 
professions of conversion, twenty-nine additions by 
baptism, twenty or more by letter, and the complete 
unifying of the church. Amnions was called to the 
pastorate by, as he was told, the unanimous vote of the 
church, but he afterwards learned that Prof. Moore 
was opposed to his call. At the end of six months, the 
time for which the first call had been made, he was 
unanimously called for a year. During the first year 
of Amnions ' pastorate the church did better work than 
it had done for a number of years, and many said it 
was the best year in its history, and yet the habit of 
doing nothing had been cultivated till it was hard to 
break it off and fall into line of active work. In the 
spring of 1 905 another revival meeting was held in 
which there were twenty-six additions by baptism, and 
the church at the time appeared to be much revived; 
but immediately after the meeting the attendance on 
the stated services began to fall off, and during the 
summer most of the church members were in the old 

There was a weekly prayer-meeting, but no one at- 
tended but the pastor, two or three sisters and the stu- 
dents in the school; the brethren in town seldom at- 

History of French Broad Association. 39 

tended, and Deacon Moore, though living in one hun- 
dred yards of the church, was not present more than 
three times during the summer. In some lines of work 
the church had made improvement, the contributions 
along all lines had increased, but it was quite a diffi- 
cult thing to get up the meager salary promised to the 
pastor. The church had promised him one hundred 
and fifty dollars for half of his time. The pastoral 
year ended with the August meeting just before the 
Association. Prof. Moore, a deacon of the church, 
stated that the church was in arrears with the pastor, 
hence in no condition to elect a pastor, and moved to 
refer it to some future time. Next day, Sunday, Dea- 
con J. R. Sams moved that the pastor continue with 
the church, and work with it, and act as pastor as he 
had done, and the motion being put was carried unani- 

Time passed till four months had gone, the salary 
had not been paid, but had increased from forty to 
ninety-five dollars, and no effort apparently had been 
made to raise it. The pastor's hands were tied, he 
could not plan any work for the future; any plans he 
might lay to-day could be blighted to-morrow ; he felt 
embarrassed and handicapped; the church was taking 
no steps to call a pastor. He notified the church that 
he was tired of this state of things, and told the dea- 
cons to confer about the matter and let him know what 
they wanted and what they proposed to do. In the 
meantime the church had re-elected Amnions for six 
months. After some delay the deacons held a meeting 
and reported to the pastor, that in their consultation 
they had agreed that as he, the pastor, was getting old, 
and the burdens of church work were increasing, that 

40 History of French Broad Association. 

the church needed a more active man, after the six 
months for which he had been called had expired. The 
pastor said, in conferring with them, that he felt that 
his pastorate had not been a complete failure; that the 
church had increased its contributions on all lines ; that 
it had maintained a wholesome discipline ; that an 
average spiritual condition had been maintained, and 
that there had been an addition to the membership by 
baptism of eighty-eight, and more than fifty by letter — 
for there had just closed a third revival in which there 
had been thirty-one additions by baptism. Deacon 
Moore replied. "The church has made progress, it is in 
better condition now than at any time since I have been 
here, and I have been here nine years.'"' The opposi- 
tion to the pastor was not that he had been neglectful 
oi his duties, nor that he was unacceptable to the peo- 
ple, for he had drawn the people to him as much as any 
pastor which the church had ever had, but the deacons 
said he was "getting old," which was not true, for he 
was already old, was old when he was called to be the 
pastor; but, notwithstanding his age, one of the dea- 
cons, after a struggle over the matter in prayer, had 
discovered that he, the pastor, was the only one that 
could, unite the church and restore the waste places. 
The question of the pastor's age was only a subterfuge. 

He told the brethren that he did not propose to be 
either an excuse nor an apology for a pastor — he 
handed in his resignation. 

When he took the church it was comparatively a 
dead church ; under his administration it had been re- 
vived and brought into harmony; there had been con- 
tinual improvement along many lines ; the church was 
at peace ; the pastor had labored hard to bring it up 

'XJKt i,,e' 

•vrtT'. ''.n ^; 

^>ti -.^., ^ 

>iA.^i ,v., . i- . ^ ^ -^ l ,. r:* 

- r" : ' r* 

,V ^,-r-i^- '* - v- 

42 History of French Broad Association. 

and a good preacher; with the hearty co-operation of 
his people he will make a good pastor ; but if left alone 
to carry the burden on his own hands he can expect 
nothing but failure. Mars Hill ought to be a strong 
church, and if anyone can develop its strength it is 
Clark, if he can only infuse his active spirit into his 
people. He is a devoted Christian, he loves the church, 
loves church work; he stood closer to pastor Amnions 
than any other member of the church, and Ammons 
will always hold him in grateful remembrance. 

The history of the ministry of the French Broad 
Association would be the history of the Association. 
Would that I had the material to enable me to do full 
justice to these noble men of God. Of the earlier min- 
istry but bare mention can be made. 

There was a brother Turner, probably the first pastor 
of Little Ivy, but of whose life and work nothing defi- 
nite is known. 

David Blackwell came up with the country and the 
people. He was a man of little or no culture, but of 
good common sense and unblemished character; he 
was pastor for some time at Little Ivy and Bull Creek. 
He was a quaint character, and some amusing anec- 
dotes are told of him. 

Jesse Ammons was ordained by Little Ivy Church, 
and for a number of years was esteemed the leading 
and ablest minister in the body. But, alas, he fell into 
sin, was excluded from the church, and for a number 
of years lived a rather reckless life. In 1856, after a 
terrible struggle, he claimed to have the joys of salva- 
tion restored ; he returned to the church, was reinstated 
in membership, and soon to the ministry, in which he 
was diligent to the end of his life. He was an able 

History of French Broad Association. 43 

man and a man of broader culture than most of his 
brethren, and his last days were full of labor, and were 
abundantly fruitful. His death was felt to be a great 

William Reese was ordained by Bull Creek Church, 
and was soon called to be its pastor, which position he 
held to the end of life. Reese was of humble, but of 
respectful origin, being the son of a poor fanner. 

He embraced religion when a young man, joined the 
church, and very soon began to preach. He had but 
little education, but he was a man of fine common 
sense; he loved God and humanity, and devoted his 
life with all that that meant to preaching to lost men 
the gospel of salvation from sin. He was a man of one 
book — the Bible. God's word was the armory whence 
he drew his weapons, and his sermons were made up 
of scripture quotations so nicely dove-tailed together 
that to the listener he seemed a very evangel, delivering 
a message from the spirit world. The writer heard 
him when a small boy, and to his latest acquaintance 
with him his words made his heart to burn. All who 
knew him loved him, and yet he lived and died in 
poverty, his only reward being the consciousness of 
having done his duty. He died about 1863, and sleeps 
in an unmarked grave. 

Luke L. Branson was cotemporary with Reese, and 
was ordained by the same church — Bull Creek. Bran- 
son was never popular as a preacher, but esteemed as 
a good man and a wise counsellor. He was the first 
in the French Broad to preach in a conversational tone ; 
this in part accounts for his want of popularity, for it 
was generally held that the man called of God to preach 
the gospel must come with the gospel tone, which wa? 

44 History of French Broad Association. 

a sort of solemn, sing-song tone and ending in a pro- 
longed a-h, a-h. Branson was the most cultured man 
in the Association in his day; a man of strong convic- 
tions, and always had the courage of his convictions. 
He was Calvinistic in doctrine, and rather inclined to 
hy-per Calvinism; but with all his might he preached 
that men should repent, that Christ Jesus is the way 
of life, and that sinners must enter this way freely, 
and by loving consent; that life is offered to sinners 
as sinners, in the gospel, and if we reject it, which we 
have power to do, we shall perish world without end. 
His worth was never known till after his death. 

H. W. Gilbert came on the stage about 1845. He, 
like most of the preachers of his time, had only a lim- 
ited knowledge of letters, but he was full of zeal for the 
cause of truth, and full of love for souls. His labors 
were principally confined to the French Broad Associa- 
tion ; he labored much in revival meetings, and left 
many seals to his ministry. He was of a lovely spirit 
and won the affections of the people. William Sprinkle 
was from one of the oldest and best families in Western 
N. C. He was converted and united with the church at 
Gabriel's Creek about 1840. He was about twenty 
years of age. Soon, under pressure of his feelings, he 
began to labor in public, especially in the prayer-meet- 
ings. He was a man of ordinary mental capacity, but 
with a great soul; and he through life maintained a 
character above reproach. He labored but little in the 
pastorate, serving only two churches, West Fork (now 
Grapevine), and Foster's Creek, both of which were 
built up under his labors. He died at a ripe age, 
mourned by a large circle of brethren and friends. 

Levi Deweese was the son of Garret Deweese, the 

History of French Broad Association. 45 

leader in the Big Ivy Association. He entered the 
ministry about i860, in mature manhood, and for a 
number of years was assiduous in labors. 

At the close of the Civil War, in connection with 
Rev. Jacob Wild, he was instrumental in resuscitating 
Marshall and Mars Hill churches, which had almost 
fallen to pieces during these troublous times. Deweese 
was a very impulsive man, and it was his great earnest- 
ness that gave him power with the people. He was a 
great Sunday school man, and did good work in this 
department of Christian work. He served Mars Hill, 
Bear Creek and Gabriel's Creek churches for a number 
of years as pastor. He died about 1900. 

William Keith was converted after he had passed the 
meridian of life : he then lived in Washington County, 
Tenn. He soon united with the Indian Creek (now 
Irwin) Baptist church, and immediately commenced 
preaching. Keith was a born leader among men. In 
sport, in fun and frolic, in revelry and amusement, in 
brawls, quarrels and fisticuff battles he always went 
in the lead, and now that he was converted he showed 
the same ardor of soul in fighting against sin. He 
threw himself, soul, mind and strength into whatever 
he did. He was ordained by Rev. Reese Baylus, a 
noted preacher of his day, assisted by other brethren, 
of whom Robert Pattison was one. 

Keith commenced preaching at Flag Pond, on the 
head of Indian Creek, near the N. C. line, and soon 
gathered a membership sufficient to organize a church, 
becoming its first pastor, and remained such till his 
death. As pastor he had charge of Flag Pond, Little 
Ivy and Gabriel's Creek. His ministry was brief, but 

46 History of French Broad Association. 

full of work and good fruits ; his life of devotion. He 
left a legacy to those who shall come after. 

Robert Pattison was of humble origin, and he grew 
up to manhood in the grossest ignorance. When about 
twenty years of age he married into one of the leading 
families of the country. He did not know a letter in 
the book, but his wife had a limited knowledge of let- 
ters. He soon professed religion and joined the church 
at Flat Creek, and was baptized by Stephen Morgan, 
Being impressed with the duty of preaching the gos- 
pel he made it known to the church, and was licensed 
"to preach the gospel wherever God in His Providence 
should cast his lot." It was a poor beginning, his 
stammering and haggling, his uncouth language made 
his hearers to blush and covered his friends with 
shame. His wife undertook to teach him to read, and 
he proved an apt student. Now he became a student of 
the Scriptures, and withal his tongue seemed to have 
been loosed. From a knowledge of the person of 
Christ as the Saviour of those who believe, he arose in 
the knowledge of the word, to the knowledge of God, 
of Christ, and of the Holy Ghost; one God, sovereign 
in nature and grace, God over all, blessed forever more. 
He had come to know the truth, and was made free in 
the largest sense. He was called to the care of Big 
Ivy Church, where he was ordained, and he remained 
with this church till his death, about the space of forty 

Pattison was a man of affairs, business tact, and 
energy. Though penniless himself, his wife had a little 
property, and by dint of application, force of will, and 
frugal management they acquired a competency. Work- 
ing by day and reading by a pine knot light by night he 

History of French Broad Association. 47 

increased his fortune, both materially and mentally; 
he grew in grace and the knowledge of the truth till 
he became a giant among men. His labors were more 
widespread than any of his cotemporaries ; he labored 
much in revival meetings, which were usually con- 
ducted by the pastor, assisted by some of his brother 
pastors. These meetings were generally of great spirit- 
ual power, in which the conversions were so marked as 
to leave little room to doubt their genuineness. Modern 
flaming evangelists were unknown in those days; all 
God's ministers were evangelists, whose hearts were 
aflame with love to God and souls for whom Christ 
died. They labored, not to count a long list of names 
that might redound to their glory through fulsome 
articles in the public prints, but to lead the people to 
trust in the Lord Jesus that they might be saved. They 
gloried in the cross of Christ, by whom they were 
crucified unto the world, and the world unto them. In 
his day Pattison was a leading spirit in the churches 
and among his brethren ; being a man of peace, he 
sought to promote harmony in the churches and among 
the brethren. For years he mourned over the division 
in the denomination, and did all that he could to heal 
the breach, and none rejoiced more when peace was 
restored than he, and it was largely through his labors 
and influence that this was accomplished. Pattison 
was not a theologian, but he was deeply read in the 
Scriptures, and accepting them as a revelation from 
God, his aim and purpose was to fix the truth of Scrip- 
ture in the minds and hearts of the people, as a nail 
fastened in a sure place, believing that the entrance of 
God's word gives light; and this he did with great 

48 History of French Broad Association. 

Dr. Wingate, president of Wake Forest College, said 
of him: "He is the grandest man I ever saw; he is 
just sublime, his eloquence is perfectly grand and over- 

As pastor he served Big Ivy, Flat Creek, Little Ivy, 
Cane River, and for brief spaces, many other churches. 

He was a member of Vance Lodge of F. A. M., at 
Morgan Hill, N. C. By order of the lodge the follow- 
ing notice of his death was read in open lodge and 
ordered to be spread upon its Minutes : 

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his 

"Departed this life on the 19th day of October, in 
the 68th year of his age, Elder Robert Patterson, of 
Buncombe County, N. C. Bro. Patterson was born 
and grew up to manhood in Buncombe ; here he pro- 
fessed religion and joined Flat Creek Baptist Church, 
then under pastoral care of Elder S. Morgan. While 
a member of this church, and in obedience to the dic- 
tates of the Holy Spirit, and under the conviction of 
duty, he entered upon the work of the ministry; and 
the sequel shows that he was not mistaken. About 
1840 he removed his membership, to Big Ivy church, 
and remained identified with this church till his death. 
During thirty-six years he was pastor of this church 
either alone or associated with some one of his brethren 
in the ministry. Many are the seals to his ministry, in 
almost every county in Western N. C. and portions of 
East Tennessee. He was eminently a man of God. 
Cold and heat, and most and dry, were alike to him; 
he traveled extensively and labored assiduously for the 

History of French Broad Association. 49 

glory of the Master and for souls for whom Jesus 
died. Often have I known him to labor night and day 
in revival meetings, when others would have been in 
bed. When Bro. Patterson entered the ministry he 
could with difficulty read a hymn, and it was more diffi- 
cult still to read the Scriptures ; but by diligence and 
perseverance he became learned in the Scriptures. It 
may be truly said of him that he was a student all his 
life. Elder Patterson was not what is called an gk able 
preacher," but he was a good preacher — never aiming 
at self-aggrandizement — but striving to glorify God in 
bringing souls to Christ. His earnestness and native 
eloquence was perfectly entrancing at times; and to 
many it was a matter of astonishment that one un- 
learned could so master thought and language. Often 
have I seen whole congregations melted to tears under 
his fervent appeals. 

No man was sounder in the Faith than Bro. Patter- 
son, and for the Faith he contended for more than 
forty years. Bro. Patterson was a man of peace. Noth- 
ing so grieved him as divisions and dissensions among 
brethren; and through all this country his counsels 
have had much to do in allaying strife and healing 
divisions — the reward of the peace-maker is his. Lovely 
in his nature he was beloved by his brethren, and many 
were the sad hearts when the news of his death was 
borne on the wings of the wind. Few of us knew how 
much we loved him till he was taken from us. O how 
the memory of his gentleness comes back to us like the 
early dew upon the herbs. 

" We shall meet but we shall miss him." 

His seat will be vacant here ; but with Abraham and 
Isaac and Jacob he is gone to sit down in the kingdom 
4 " 

50 History of French Broad Association. 

of God. Let his brethren that mourn his absence imi- 
tate his virtues and follow him as he followed Christ. 
His last illness was short, but very painful. Calmly 
now he sleeps in Jesus, whose servant he was : 

" Asleep in Jesus, blessed sleep, 
From which, none ever wakes to weep, 
A calm and undisturbed repose 
Unbroken by the last of foes." 

" Servant of God, rest from thy loved employ ; 
Eeleased from pain and toil — dwell, now in perfect joy." 

"May God deal very tenderly with the weeping 
widow and the bereaved children, and may his mantle 
fall upon one who will never let dust accumulate upon 
it. "John Ammons, 

For the Lodge/' 

Stephen Morgan was one of the oldest ministers, and 
was identified with the Association from its organiza- 
tion. He was a man of strong character, and indomitable 
will ; rugged in nature, he was inclined to be rugged in 
his ways, and he made himself to be feared as well as 
to be loved. He preached the gospel for more than 
fifty years, and died in a ripe old age without a spot 
upon his character. He was pastor at Flat Creek for 
more than forty years, and was nominally the pastor 
till his death, although for several years he had been 
laid aside by reason of infirmity. His were days of 
self-denial, of sacrifice, of toil, of suffering, for Christ's 
sake. For forty years, through heat and cold, through 
wet and dry, he rode monthly on horseback to Grassy 
Creek to minister to the little flock at that place, and 
during all this time he never missed an appointment. 
Morgan's lot was a hard one, and he was peculiarly 
fitted to fill it ; his was pioneer work, and well and truly 

History of French Broad Association. 51 

he did it. He not only had to master the difficulties 
which were unavoidable in dealing with an uneducated 
and crude people., whose moral standard was not very 
high, but he had to face difficulties arising from another 
source. The Methodists had entered the country with 
its first settlers, and were much more numerous than 
the Baptists, and to add to the seriousness of the prob- 
lem, most of the intelligence and culture was with the 
Methodists, and their ministers were better educated. 
Morgan was the man for the hour and the occasion. 
Bold by nature, and being well grounded in Scripture 
doctrines, he met his opponents with the Sword of the 
Spirit, and never did his colors trail in the dust. The 
Methodists never liked him, yet they believed him to 
be a Christian, honest in his convictions and upright 
in his motives, yet they feared him and never dared 
to meet him in open combat. His progress was slow, 
but he builded better than he knew, and the efforts of 
his opponents reflected on their own heads. The Bap- 
tists increased and the Methodists decreased, and 
ground that was wholly occupied by Methodists is now 
Baptist ground. 

It was the custom for Methodist preachers to stig- 
matize the Baptists as mean-spirited, uncharitable and 
ignorant; this because they rejected infant baptism; 
and would recognize no act for baptism but immersion, 
and practiced Close Communion. The notorious \Y. G. 
Brownlow spent one year on the Buncombe Circuit, 
and he speaks of Morgan as "an old man preaching in 
the wilderness of Judea, and saying repent, for the 
Kingdom of Heaven is at hand ; he was clothed in a 
rough garment, with a leather girdle about his loins, 
and 'his meat was locusts and wild honev." 

52 History of French Broad Association. 

This same Methodist preacher said of the Baptists: 
"By day and by night their cry was water, water, water, 
as if heaven were an island, situated somewhere in the 
British Sea, and we all had to swim to get there." 
Nar. of Life, p. 257. 

All Methodist preachers were not alike; Brownlow 
was an exception ; but these are specimens of the gibes 
and sneers that were thrown at the Baptists. Brown- 
low's thrust was intended as a burlesque, but it was 
an encomium. Morgan did go about preaching in the 
wilderness, he did preach Repentance toward God and 
Faith in the Lord Jesus as the only way of escape for 
sinners, and for this he deserves praise. 

His labors were spread over a wide field, and were 
abundantly blessed ; he had much to do in building up 
the older churches in the French Broad Association. 
He was recognized as a wise counsellor and a safe 
leader, and his assistance was much sought when diffi- 
culties arose in the churches. Many amusing anecdotes 
are told which illustrate his wit. Riding along the 
road one day he met a woman who came up smiling 
and extending her hand said, "How-da-do, Bro. Mor- 
gan." He took the proffered hand, and looked at her 
with inquiring gaze. "Don't you know me," she in- 
quired. "No," he replied. She then told him her 
name, upon which he said, in his peculiar style, u O, yes, 
I know you, and never knew any good of you, either ; 

It shows the style of the man ; he hated shams and 
frauds, and always took pleasure in uncovering, ex- 
posing and rebuking them. He loved to preach and 
to hear preaching, but could not stand botch work in 
the pulpit, and he was often known to pull the coat- 

History of French Broad Association. 53 

tail of his brother if he did not please him, or rather, 
if he thought he was making a failure. It is hard to 
imagine what our present condition would be had we 
had no Morgan to lay the foundation and blaze the 
way. He was a great and good man, and we who knew 
him best miss him most. The Morgan spirit hovers 
over this Association till this day. Long may his 
memory live. 

Rev. L. W. Sams was originally of Washington 
County, Tenn., and of a good family. He entered the 
ministry in mature manhood ; but, like most of the 
brethren, his education was limited, but by diligent ap- 
plication he secured an extensive knowledge of the 
Scriptures and was an active minister for more than 
forty years. 

Sams was a man of an ardent temperament, what 
he did he did with his might. He loved to preach be- 
cause he believed it was God's appointed means of 
saving the lost. Preaching with him was not a pro- 
fession but a Divine calling, and he felt that "woe is me 
if I preach not the gospel/' His earnestness carried 
great weight and made him a winner of souls ; he was 
a successful revivalist. He was pastor at Little Ivy, 
Big Ivy, Flat Creek, Gabriel's Creek, Forks of Ivy, 
Marshall, Cane River, Morgan Hill and Mars Hill ; 
his most important work was done at Mars Hill. 

For many years he gave little attention to the Sun- 
day school work; but in his later years he became en- 
thusiastic in the work and told his brethren that the 
mistake of his life was that he did not enter it sooner. 
Sams was a man of a progressive spirit, he was ready 
for every good word and work ; he was not what is 
called a doctrinal preacher, his strength consisted more 

54 History of French Broad Association. y 

in the power to enforce the truth than to interpret it — 
he was a strong man in his day. 

J. W. Hooker was the son of Absalom Hooker, one 
of the most devoted men I ever knew. Hooker was a 
poor man, and with the poor facilities for learning he 
could not educate his boy. Jim, as he was called, grew 
up to manhood an awkward, gawky boy; he embraced 
religion when he was about twenty years old, and 
united with the church at Big Ivy. 

He soon expressed a desire to preach, and though 
none were impressed that there was much in him, yet 
the church licensed him. For some time there was not 
much development in him, and his failures were the 
subject of remark and sometimes jests by the light- 
minded, but he soon began to improve, and it was dis- 
covered that he had both brains and common sense. 
He was the first native preacher to preach in a conver- 
sational tone, and this operated as a bar to his popu- 
larity, for it was generally held that to preach one must 
have a holy tone (whatever that might be), and Hooker 
had it not. 

Some of the more discerning brethren thought they 
saw something in him to encourage hope, and they be- 
gan to speak words of encouragement to him, and this 
had a good effect; Hooker began to grow. He was 
ordained and soon called to the care of churches. 

About 1850 he was called, in connection with H. W. 
Gilbert, to the care of Flag Pond Church, which he 
served for several years. He was then called to Cane 
River, where he served till the Civil War with great 
satisfaction to the people and with a large measure of 
success. In 1859-60 he was a student at Mars Hill 
under Prof. J. B. Marsh. He was a good student, but 

History of French Broad Association. 55 

took special delight in the study of mental science and 
logic. He was rather dull in mathematics, but made 
good progress in English Grammar and English liter- 
ature. He did not own many books, but he made good 
use of those he had, and he was especially deeply read 
in the Scriptures. 

As a preacher, in the truest sense he, probably, had 
no equal in Western N. C. His power of unfolding 
truth was wonderful, and the people delighted to sit 
under his ministry and receive instruction from his 
lips. As a pastor he was a success wherever he la- 
bored; but he loved to labor in revivals and had won- 
derful success in the work. The last few years of his 
life he spent in the New Found Association. , 

W. K. Briggs was one of three triplets, sons of Thos. 
Briggs, of Ivy, Madison County. He was converted 
when a young man, joined the church at Little Ivy, 
and was baptized by Elder Wm. Keith. 

Under stress of feeling he began to talk in the 
social and prayer-meetings ; no one had thought of his 
ever making a preacher till he was actually preaching — 
it was a new departure. He was licensed to preach, 
but it was some years before he was ordained; he felt 
that he was called to exhort, rather than to preach, and 
this he did with more power than any other person that 
I ever knew. His life was rich in spiritual fruitage, a 
great portion of it being devoted to pastoral work, but 
during the last few years of his life he retired from the 
ministry, saying that he felt that his mind, like his 
body, was failing, and he feared that he might say 
something that was wrong. He died about 81 years of 
age, mourned by a large circle of loving friends and a 
bereaved family. 

56 History of French Broad Association. 

Brother Briggs served as pastor Little Ivy, Middle 
Fork, Forks of Ivy, and Bethel, and was much beloved 
by his people. His funeral was conducted by John 
Ammons, with whom he had been happily associated 
for fifty years. 

John Amnions was the son of Stephen Ammons, and 
grandson of Ephraim Ammons, one of the first settlers 
of the country. The only schools of his childhood were 
what was called Old Field Schools ; to these he was sent 
a few months each year from his ninth year up to 
nineteen. His only text-books were the Blue-back 
Speller and Fowler's Arithmetic. He soon mastered 
the Blue-back and Fowler to the Rule of Three ; this 
was thought to be a wonderful accomplishment for one 
of his age. The boy delighted in reading, but his home 
afforded nothing but the Bible and a song book ; these 
he read with avidity, especially the Bible ; this he read 
from Genesis to Revelation over and over again, till 
he could almost repeat it from memory. He grew up 
to manhood with no other literary advantages save a 
few books that an old Baptist preacher loaned him; 
these were good books and he derived much profit and 
a great deal of pleasure from reading them. He was 
not a mean boy, his father having taken special pains 
to instruct him in the things that were right and to 
warn him against the wrong, but he was a boy, after all, 
and delighted in fun and frolic, and was always leader 
in every game of mischief. He professed religion in 
his twentieth year and united with the church at 
Gabriel's Creek, and was baptized by Rev. Robert Pat- 
tison. Soon thereafter he married Miss Sallie E. 
Jervis, daughter of E. Jervis, of Madison County; his 
wife, like himself, was poor and uneducated. This was 

History of French Broad Association. 57 

October, 1850. Soon after marriage he was impressed 
with the duty of preaching, but the very thought 
frightened him ; to be a preacher would be the highest 
honor to which one could attain, but he, an ignorant 
boy, what could he do? He could never preach. It 
troubled him, and he tried to put the thought out of 
mind, but it would not down. He kept his impressions 
to himself, not even telling his wife, hoping that the 
impressions might leave him ; it was a terrible struggle. 
For four years he prayed and groaned and agonized, 
but it was to be excused, he wanted to have his own 
will and way, not God's will, and yet he prayed, "Thy 
will be done;" but it was in the spirit of rebellion. 

In the intensity of his sufferings he unbosomed him- 
self to Deacon John Ramsay, in whom he had the ut- 
most confidence; his purpose was to seek advice, and 
he plead with Ramsay to keep his secret, but Ramsay 
told the pastor, and after a consultation among the 
brethren they said he ought to preach, and in the au- 
tumn of 1854, at the call of the church, he entered the 

In October, 1856, he was ordained by East Fork 
Church, of which he was a member, and entered at once 
on the active work of the ministry, and in which he 
has continued without a break till the present time, 
1907, covering a period of fifty-three years. 

His first work after ordination was in a revival at 
Bull Creek Church, and the first person he baptized 
was a negro, whom he baptized into the fellowship of 
this church. Immediately after this he was called to 
aid pastor Reese in a meeting at Sugar Camp Branch, 
in which meeting there were more than thirty profes- 
sions of religion, and more than twenty added to the 

58 History of French Broad Association. 

church; this was his first experience in conducting re- 
vival meetings. In 1857 he was engaged in mission 
work in the Union Association in Buncombe and Hen- 
derson counties. He held meetings with North Swan- 
nanoa, Bethel and Concord churches; Bethel was situ- 
ated where the town of Brevard now stands, and finally 
became Brevard Baptist Church. He was very suc- 
cessful in all these meetings, there being quite a num- 
ber of conversions at each of these meetings, and the 
churches were much strengthened ; he w r as called to the 
care of these churches, and this was the beginning of 
his pastoral work. It was under his influence that 
Marshall Baptist Church was organized, but under the 
pastoral care of Rev. Stephen Wallen. Amnions se- 
cured an appropriation from the Domestic Mission 
Board at Marion, Ala., of seventy-five dollars for the 
support of the work at Marshall, this support was given 
for 1S58-59-60; Amnions being the pastor for 1859-60. 

Amnions was very early sensibly impressed with his 
need of better educational preparation for the work of 
the ministry, and finally, at every risk, he entered Mars 
Hill College as a student. 

He was then twenty-seven years of age, with a wife 
and three children to support. He had accumulated 
a little property, but in thirteen months in school this 
was all consumed and a debt created amounting to one 
hundred and twenty-five dollars. 

In the meantime he had, under appointment of the 
Western Baptist Convention, spent the year from Sep- 
tember, 1858, to September, 1859, in mission work in 
Yancey County; it was a splendid year's work. There 
were more than one hundred conversions in connection 

History of French Broad Association. 59 

with his work, and he baptized seventy-five persons 
during the year. 

His progress in study was very rapid, accomplishing 
more, his teacher said, than any other two of his 
pupils. He had never studied English Grammar a day 
till he entered Mars Hill College, but at the close of 
thirteen months, the time which he attended school, he 
came out an accredited grammarian; this was in Feb- 
ruary, 1 86 1. 

In February, 1861, he took charge of Burnsville 
Academy, with encouraging prospects, but the Civil 
War opening up in April blighted all his hopes; and 
after a five months' term he returned to Mars Hill. 
During the first two years of the war he spent most of 
his time as missionary to the North Carolina troops 
in the Western Army. He marched with them on their 
marches, slept in their tents, and preached to them in 
their camps ; but his health failng he resigned, and was 
called to the care of the Waynesville Baptist Church; 
here, till the close of the war in 1865, he conducted a 
school for young ladies and children, and ministered 
to the church as its pastor. 

In February, 1866, he returned to Mars Hill, and in 
April following he was elected President of Mars Hill 
College, to succeed Prof. Pinkney Rollins, resigned. 
Here he remained till February, 1868. The school 
under his management was a complete success; at the 
same time he was pastor of Hominy Baptist Church in 
Buncombe County. 

In 1867, he purchased a small farm at Morgan Hill 
in Buncombe County, to which he removed in 1868. 
This year he taught at Hominy in Buncombe, the best 
paying school he ever taught; the five months paying 

60 History of French Broad Association. 

five hundred dollars. Closing the school at Hominy he 
decided to quit teaching, but the people at Morgan Hill 
would not let him rest. Yielding to their solicitations 
he taught at that place for one year ; at the same time 
he was pastor at Locust Old Fields, and Bethel in Hay- 
wood County, and at Morgan Hill in Buncombe. The 
three churches paid him one hundred and eighty-five 

In the fall of 1869 he was appointed Sunday School 
Missionary by the North Carolina Sunday School As- 
sociaton, a society organized at Raleigh for the promo- 
tion of Baptist Sunday school work in the State. It 
was at this time that the controversy, which has here- 
tofore been alluded to, over the sub-Sunday school 
work arose. Amnions, among the preachers, stood al- 
most alone in advocacy of distinctive Baptist schools, 
but he won the fight in the end, and the nature and 
character of the Sunday school work in Western North 
Carolina is due more to him than to any other person, 
for his labors extended over the State, from Raleigh 
to the Tennessee line. 

The time which he devoted to this work in North 
Carolina was two years; one year of this time he was 
under commission of the Sunday School Board of the 
Southern Baptist Convention, then located at Memphis, 
Tenn. While engaged in this work he received a sal- 
ary of seven hundred and fifty dollars per annum. The 
year 1872 he spent as Superintendent of Sunday School 
Work in East Tennessee, under appointment of the 
Baptist General Association of East Tennessee. 

The year 1872 was a time of great political excite- 
ment and trouble. After the close of the war an or- 

History of French Broad Association. 61 

ganization known as "The Union League' 7 had been 
introduced into the country. All who had been Union 
men during the war became members of this organi- 
zation ; but unfortunately all who had been bushwhack- 
ers and plunderers from both sides rushed into the or- 
ganization and stirred up all the strife and confusion 
of which they were capable. The negroes also took, as 
they thought, refuge in it. These things gave rise to 
grave suspicions and solicitude in the public mind. 

As a safeguard against what it was supposed might 
arise out of this state of things the u Ku Klux Klan" 
was organized. Against this organization the govern- 
ment adopted severe repressive measures, and the 
country was filled with Deputy United States Mar- 

Every one who did not fraternize with the Union 
League was called a "Ku Klux/' Quiet good citizens 
were arrested in the middle of the night and hauled 
before a United States Commissioner to be tried for, 
he knew not what. It was a time of great distress ; 
the government had instituted a system of spying upon 
its citizens, and they were at the tender mercies of the 
worst men in the country. 

Ammons had been known as a Rebel, and he had re- 
fused to join the Union League, although solicited to 
do so. He was marked at once as a Ku Klux, and 
every effort made to criminate him. All he could do 
was to bear it, and this he did with a fortitude that 
was wonderful. The burden was heavy, but the con- 
sciousness of innocence supported him. At one time 
he was almost ready to despond, feeling that the devil 
was about to triumph over him, but he committed his 
cause to God and went on with his work. In the end 

62 History of French Broad Association. 

he came out unscathed, without the smell of fire on his 

After closing out his work as Sunday School Mis- 
sionary he again took up the work of the pastorate. 
His first work was at Little Ivy, on the very ground 
where the principal efforts had been made to destroy 
him. This call was peculiarly gratifying to him, be- 
cause it proved to him that the brethren had lost noth- 
ing of their confidence in him. Here he labored three 
years, and they were years of rich reward; the church 
was in a low state when he took charge, and in the 
three years the church had become strong, its member- 
ship having been increased by more than eighty by 
baptism. He was also called to Bull Creek, which he 
served for three years. This pastorate, like Little Ivy, 
was exceedingly prosperous ; the church was built up 
in numbers and built a new house of worship during 
the time. About this time he was called to Marshall, 
which he served several years. 

About 1 88 1 he was invited by the citizens of Burns- 
ville to preach, statedly in the village. He accepted the 
invitation, and in thirteen months had succeeded in 
gathering a membership of sixteen, and had built a 
church house at a cost of fourteen hundred dollars ; had 
organized a church and had paid every dollar for the 
church building. He was pastor of this church for 
six years, in which time it had increased to twenty- 
seven members. During two years of this time he was 
pastor at Cane River. 

In 1886 he was called to the care of Good Hope 
Church in Cock County, Tenn. He served this church 
for three years, during which time he was called to 
take charge of French Broad Church in Jefferson 
County, Tenn., and also to Big Creek in Cock County. 

History of French Broad Association. 63 

At this time, 1888-91, he had charge of French 
Broad, Good Hope, Big Creek, and Marshall in N. C, 
the work was prosperous in all these churches. The 
church at French Broad was wealthy and cultured, and 
the mistake of his life was that he did not settle per- 
manently with them ; no more tender relations ever 
existed between pastor and people than existed between 
these churches and the pastor; it was a great grief to 
part from them. In 1801 he resigned all his churches 
to take charge and oversight of the mission work of 
the Western Baptist Convention, as Corresponding 
Secretary of the Mission Board. 

This work he carried to such a degree of success as 
to astonish the most sanguine; the history of the work 
will show that he possessed extraordinary executive 
ability. In the two years of his administration more 
was accomplished than in any eight years of its prior 
existence. At the Convention at Asheville in 1889 tne 
Board reported received and disbursed for Conven- 
tional Missions one thousand and twenty-five dollars, 
and six hundred of this amount had been received from 
the Home Mission Board at Atlanta. At the Conven- 
tion at Bryson City in 1890 the Board reported as 
raised and expended in the Convention's mission work 
two thousand, six hundred and seventy-eight dollars, 
six hundred of this sum was from the Atlanta Board. 
We have the contrast of two thousand and seventy- 
eight dollars against four hundred and twenty-five the 
preceding year. 

Minutes of 1891, at the Convention at Waynesville 
the Treasurer's report showed that two thousand, four 
hundred and twenty-one dollars and fifty-two cents for 
Conventional Missions had passed through his hands; 

64 History of French Broad Association. 

this was in 1891. The work of Foreign Missions, 
Home Missions and Orphanage had made similar ad- 
vances. (See Minutes of 1 890-1.) 

The Convention met at Hendersonville in 1892, and 
the Treasurer's report shows that for all purposes there 
had been collected during the year two thousand, nine 
hundred and seventy dollars and seventy-eight cents; 
everybody can draw their own inferences. (See Min- 
utes for 1892.) After he retired from this work he 
preached for Flat Creek Church for one year. In 1894 
he was prevailed upon to become a candidate for the 
State Senate for the 33d Senatorial District. He was 
elected over his opponent by a respectable majority, and 
spent the winter of 1895 in Raleigh, and made for him- 
self a good reputation as a faithful public servant. 

In 1897 he was called to Morgan Hill Church, which 
he served for five years. This pastorate was a wonder- 
ful success, and the church grew and prospered ; sixty- 
seven members were added by baptism and quite a 
number by letter. It's true the devil made some in- 
roads, but was foiled in his purpose, viz, the destruc- 
tion of the church. 

He then served Grapevine Church for one year, and 
Oak Grove in Buncombe, for two years. In March, 
1904, he was called to Mars Hill, which he served for 
two years. His work had been a success everywhere, 
as a teacher, as a missionary, as a Sunday school 
worker and as a pastor; everywhere the work had 
prospered under his hands, and his work had been 
more widespread than any of his cotemporaries. When 
he entered the ministry the Methodists were numerous, 
and had in a large measure the command of the situ- 
ation, and it was a common practice with Methodist 

History of French Broad Association. 65 

ministers to castigate the Baptists and tantalize them 
for their narrowness and ignorance. Ammons took up 
the defense of the cause and the result was a number 
of fierce contests over the questions of the mode of 
baptism and infant baptism. These controversies had 
the effect to strengthen the Baptist position and the 
Methodists came to treat the Baptists with more con- 
sideration. The Campbellites made inroads into the 
country, and introduced confusion and divisions in 
some of the churches. Ammons incurred their dis- 
pleasure by reason of some remarks which he made 
about them, and they challenged him for a discussion. 
After considerable correspondence the terms were ar- 
ranged and the debate came off at Flat Creek Baptist 
Church, and continued for four days, six hours a day. 
The Campbellites brought forward a strong man, a 
good debater, and rallied all their people in Western 
North Carolina to give him their moral support. There 
were four propositions : 

1. "The New Testament teaches that Baptism is for 
the Actual Remission of Sins." Berry affirms, Am- 
mons denies. 

2. "The New Testament Teaches that it is the Duty 
of Sinners to Pray for the Remission of Sins, Separate 
from and Apart from Baptism." Ammons affirms and 
Berry denies. 

3. "The Christian (called Campbellite) church is the 
Church of Christ." Berry affirms and Ammons denies. 

4. "The Missionary Baptist Church is the Church of 
Christ." Ammons affirms and Berry denies. 

Ammons made the best preparation that was pos- 
sible with the means at his command, and at the close 
of the debate it was conceded by all who were present 

66 History of French Broad Association. 

that he had won a complete victory. Campbellism had 
failed of its purpose, and a quietus was given to the 
questions which had been injected into the public mind 
and had operated as disturbing factors. Campbellism 
has made no show in this country since. 

About the year 1881 there came into the country a 
Mr. J. N. Fairchild, claiming to be a Baptist preacher, 
He was a very pretentious fellow and knew how to 
blow his own horn, he soon created a following and 
got the care of several churches ; but it was soon noised 
abroad that he was immoral, a gambler, a drunkard, 
a lecherous pest. Amnions took the matter in hand 
and traced the fellow from May's Lick, Kentucky, 
through Eastern Kentucky, through East Tennessee, 
into Western N. C, and showed him to be a vile im- 
poster ; drove him out of the church and delivered the 
churches and the country from a great curse, but not 
till he had done an amount of mischief. 

No man in his day was more devoted to his work 
than Amnions, and he was a leader in every good work ; 
he was sound to the core and a successful revivalist; 
hundreds were converted under his ministry, and he 
has baptized about two thousand persons. 

He was several years President of the Western Bap- 
tist Convention, and at various times Moderator of the 
French Broad Association, which position he holds 
now, and has for the last four years. 

He has also been a Trustee of Mars Hill College 
from its incorporation, with the exception of a few 
years, up till now ; in fact, he has been actively associ- 
ated with the brethren in every worthy enterprise, and 
now, at the age of seventy-seven, though feeble, he is 
still in the work. 

History of French Broad Association. 67 

Stephen Wallen is the son of Thos. Wallen, of Big 
Laurel, Madison County, N. C. He began to preach 
about 1847; ms labors have been principally in French 
Broad Association, and mostly in his own community. 
He is a man of excellent character, and did a good work 
among his own people ; those who knew him best loved 
him most. He is still living, having been in the min- 
istry for about sixty years, but during the last ten 
years he has been laid aside by reason of infirmity. 

Ransom Pinner came into French Broad from Ten- 
nessee. Pinner, during his active manhood, was a 
good preacher, but he lacked push ; he was never, as a 
preacher, what he might have been had he had more 
self-assertion. He did good work as a pastor. He is 
still living, but doing no preaching. 

For a number of years he was in the pastoral work 
in Yancey County, and gave good satisfaction to his 

W .T. Bradley was, for some years, a minister in the 
French Broad Association, having been ordained by 
one of its churches. Bradley is one of the ablest 
preachers of his generation, and is a good pastor ; he 
has served many churches and has succeeded well in 
his work ; he has labored much in revival work, and 
has had good success; many have been added to the 
churches as the fruit of his ministry. He is now a 
member of the Buncombe County Association. 

S. J. Morgan was ordained by Morgan Hill Church 
while it was a member of French Broad. He is a 
grandson of Stephen Morgan, Sr., and largely par- 
takes of the nature of his grandfather. For a number 
of years he labored as pastor and as an evangelist, and 
wherever he went he won golden opinions for himself. 

68 History of French Broad Association. 

He succeeded well in the pastoral work, serving Little 
Ivy, Bull Creek, Forks of Ivy, North Fork of Ivy, 
Morgan Hill, and perhaps some others; but that for 
which he seemed best suited was revival work, in this 
he was eminently successful, and his labors were much 
in demand. Morgan is a strong preacher and sound 
to the core; he now belongs to the Buncombe County 

Alfred Bradley, a brother of W. T. Bradley, entered 
the ministry in his mature manhood about the year 
1880. He was full of enthusiasm, and soon developed 
into a strong preacher; he has been very successful in 
revival work, and is a good pastor, more a builder than 
an organizer, yet his churches have generally been in 
line in every department of work. He is still in the 
work and is pastor of three or four churches. 

J. W. Anderson entered the ministry when about 
forty years of age. He had been a man of business 
push, and at the beginning of the Civil War had a good 
fortune in his hands, but as a great portion of his prop- 
erty consisted in slaves the close of the war left him 
broken; he accepted the changed conditions in the 
spirit of meekness, and soon began to preach. He was 
better equipped for the work than most men of his 
day, having a very fair English education. 

Anderson became a strong preacher, and for a num- 
ber of years did good work as a pastor; he was or- 
dained by Mars Hill Church, and for a number of years 
was its pastor. He was pastor at Bakersville in 
Mitchell County, at Burnsville in Yancey County, be- 
ing called to succeed Ammons, who had built up the 
church. He was also pastor at Morgan Hill and 
Gash's Creek in Buncombe County. He died at Ashe- 

History of French Broad Association. 69 

ville June 2d, being nearly ninety years old. For tht 
last ten years he has been too feeble to do any work. 
He is much esteemed for his work's sake. 

T. M. Honeycutt entered the ministry about 1875. 
He was the son of Sampson Honeycutt, an old-time 
Baptist preacher, a good man and a devoted Christian. 
Young Honeycutt had but little education, but he was 
full of the spirit of work, and he soon became an able 
and successful preacher. After serving for some years 
as pastor he was sent by the Mission Board of the 
Western Baptist Convention as missionary to Ashe and 
Alleghany counties. This was a hard field, being oc- 
cupied by the Anti-Mission Baptists, and a faction 
calling themselves "Union Baptists; 1 ' these last were 
missionary in principle, but they mixed up their poli- 
tics and religion, so as to hold every one who had been 
a Rebel or affiliated with rebels as transgressors, and 
they would have no fellowship with them. In two or 
three years he had succeeded in organizing several 
churches, and had encouraged and strengthened the 
few feeble ones which he had found on the field till he 
was able to organize an Association — the Ashe and 
Alleghany — with some seven churches and a member- 
ship of several hundred. 

The Association chose to go into the State Conven- 
tion, and Honeycutt was retained as missionary for 
two or more years. 

This mission was a complete triumph of truth and 
labor ; opposition was overcome, the people were at- 
tracted to the truth as proclaimed by the faithful mis- 
sionary, souls were saved, God was glorified, so that 
the truth began to have free course; it was foundation 

jo History of French Broad Association, 

Having* resigned that work he came to Mars Hill, 
and was soon called to the care of Mars Hill Church. 
He took great interest in the school, and cast the whole 
weight of his influence in its support ; it was largely 
through his labors that the school was lifted up to its 
present level. The church under his administration 
did good work, and the only thing which he lacked to 
make his pastorate a success was the hearty co-oper- 
ation of the brotherhood ; a Mars Hill pastorate has 
always been a trying field. Becoming discouraged he 
resigned from Mars Hill Church, and turned to another 
field of labor ; one that would more readily respond to 
his efforts, a field of larger promise; but about this 
time his health began to fail, and after two or three 
years of wasting sickness and fearful suffering he de- 
parted to be with Christ, which was far better. 

Honeycutt was a great man because he was a good 
man, and his memory lives in the hearts of all who 
knew him. 

Honeycutt was not a brilliant man, but he was a 
solid man ; he had opinions and was free to express 
them ; frank, open, sincere, he was ready for every 
good word and work. It will be hard to find the man 
to fill his place. 

A. J. Sprinkle was an orphan boy, and grew up to 
manhood without any advantages for an education or 
social culture. Jack, as he was known, was a rattling 
fellow, he loved mischief and reveled in rowdying; he 
was what the boys called a hale, good fellow. 

He learned to play the fiddle, and took pleasure in 
playing for the old-time country dance. In some way 
he became convicted for sin, and it was then that he 
beq-an to realize what a dreadful thing sin was. After 

History of French Broad Association. ji 

a bitter struggle he came out of the darkness into the 
light, he cast of! the works of darkness and put on the 
armor of light. Jack was converted; he joined the 
church and started out on the new and higher life, a 
life of faith, of consecration and sacrifice. Many said 
it would not last, but it did last, and strengthen and 
deepen, and soon he began to pray in the prayer-meet- 
ings and to exhort the ungodly to repentance. Bad 
Jack, as he was called, soon became a flaming evangel- 
ist, and for a number of years has been one of our 
most devoted and successful preachers. He is a man 
of decision of character, he has opinions and is free 
to express them ; he is a successful revivalist and a 
good pastor. He is now in the vigor of manhood, and 
promises to live long to feed the lambs and the sheep. 

L. J. Baily came to the French Broad from East 
Tennessee Association ; he is an earnest consecrated 
man of God. He has served a number of churches as 
pastor with great success ; while he is not regarded as 
an organizer yet he succeeds in keeping his people in 
line of work and is much beloved by his people. There 
is no more devoted preacher in the Association than 
Baily, and few have exceeded him in usefulness. 

There are a number of young preachers in the body 
that have not had time to show what is in them. It 
is to be hoped that they will prove to be equal to the 
demand of the time. 

The ministry of the Association is rather weak at 
this time, and especially deficient in numbers. The 
churches will never reach that state of efficiency after 
which each ought to aspire till each can have its own 
stated pastor and maintain a weekly preaching service. 

T. C. King came into the French Broad Association 

J2 History of French Broad Association. 

from Yancey, and has been with us about two years. 
He is pastor at Laurel Branch, Madison Seminary, and 
Gabriel's Creek churches; he is a man of considerable 
culture, and is a good preacher; the work in his 
churches is in a prosperous condition ; he is well suited 
to the pastoral work. 

The Baptist cause in this country is cotemporaneous 
with the first settlements, and every step of the coun- 
try's progress is marked with Baptist simplicity and 
distinguished by Baptist principles. One hundred 
years has wrought a wonderful change; the six 
churches entering into the organization contained all 
the Baptists in a region embracing twelve thousand 
square miles, i. e., all of Western North Carolina west 
of the Blue Ridge and south of Tow River. This 
whole region was one vast forest, broken by just a few 
settlements, and in nearly all of them was established 
a Baptist church ; it was the home of the wild deer, the 
bear, the prowling wolf and the hunting-ground of the 
Indian. But all of this is changed now, the forest has 
been cleared away and given place to beautiful farms, 
comfortable homes have been built, towns have been 
planted, the valleys have become dotted with beautiful 
church houses and school houses, the population has 
increased from a few hundred to thousands of busy, 
happy people. Religiously the change is not so per- 
ceptible, except in facilities and material development. 
The faith of the fathers characterized the children; 
Christ was Lord of the conscience, the King in Zion; 
allegiance is due to none else. The religion of these 
French Broad Baptists is simple New Testament re- 
ligion, needing no adornment but the adornment of a 
godly life. The Association has grown, less in area 

History of French Broad Association. 73 

but large in membership ; the territory which it occu- 
pied originally embraced about twelve thousand square 
miles, now it embraces about eight hundred; then it 
embraced about two hundred members, now it em- 
braces twenty-seven churches, with a membership of 
twenty-nine hundred ; then there was a church for 
every two thousand square miles, now there is one for 
every thirty square miles. The face of society has 
changed as the face of the country has changed, and 
yet the general character of the people is the same. The 
country was settled by a staid population of Scotch, 
English, Irish and Dutch, with the Anglo-Saxon pre- 
vailing, and there has come little change in the ethno- 
logical conditions. The population is of the same plain, 
matter-of-fact common sense people as of yore, and to 
this may be attributed the fact that religion among its 
people is of the same simple, matter-of-fact character. 
The Baptists of this country have been in the forefront 
in every forward, upward movement, or rather the coun- 
try is what the Baptists have made it. For more than 
fifty years the Baptists of the French Broad Associa- 
tion have, in their annual meetings, been discussing and 
keeping before the minds of the people those great 
questions which underlie every step of moral and re- 
ligious progress — temperance, education, Sunday 
schools, missions, Home and Foreign, church building 
— these are the questions which have engaged the atten- 
tion and called forth the energies of these Baptists. 

Mars Hill College was built and fostered by the 
French Broad Baptists, and from very small beginnings 
it has arisen as a Baptist institution of learning to the 
second place in the State. Every inch of the Asso- 
ciation's territory, except the town of Marshall, is pro- 

74 History of French Broad Association. 

hibition ground, and whiskey goes out of Marshall in 

Our fathers worshipped in small log houses, or 
under the shade of the trees, now most of our churches 
have well-equipped houses of worship, aggregating in 
value twenty thousand dollars. 

Marshall had a hard struggle for existence for nearly 
fifty years, but under the leadership of Rev. M. A. 
Wood it succeeded in building a beautiful house worth 
forty-five hundred dollars, and has a membership of 
one hundred and fifty-one. Rev. J. W. Suttle, an able 
young preacher, is now pastor, and it has weekly ser- 
vices, the only one in the Association that has. 

The country is indebted to the churches for every 
excellence which it possesses, but the churches are 
what the preachers made them. These old men of 
God who, most of them, lie sleeping in its hills, made 
the country what it is to-day, and yet they did it at 
their own expense, for they were poorly paid, if paid 
at all. They laid their lives on the altar, a sacrifice to 
God for the people. We shall not soon see their like 
again. Morgan and Deweese, and Patterson, and 
Blackwell, and Reese, and Branson, and Sams, and 
Hooker, and Amnions, and Keith, and Gilbert, these 
are names that can not die. Great, not like Caesar, 
stained with blood," but great for the good that they 
have done and the sacrifices which they have made. 

The ministry of the French Broad is at this time 
comparatively weak, especially in numbers. J. W. Sut- 
tle, at Marshall, is a man of fine culture and an able 
preacher; he has been identified with us but a short 
time. F. A. Clark, a professor at Mars Hill, is a 
scholarly man, he is pastor at Mars Hill, but being 

History of French Broad Association. 75 

burdened with his work in the school-room, he can not 
give to pastoral work the time which its interest de- 
mands. Clark is an able preacher. 

T. C. King is pastor of several country churches, 
preaching to each once a month ; he is an able and suc- 
cessful preacher and is much beloved by his people. 
These are the only preachers in the body of more than 
ordinary culture, and they can not be regarded as per- 
manently fixed and identified with us. What we need 
is a ministry, not only sound in the faith (which may 
be affirmed of our present ministry), but sufficiently 
cultured to be able to lead and elevate their people in 
the world of thought; and this is the more important 
at this time because of the strong tendency to cut loose 
from ancient moorings, and to launch out into new and 
unexplored fields of thought and teaching. True, 
there has not been much unsettling of the faith, but 
the waves of infidelity and error are coming this way, 
and may at any time, like a great tidal wave, inundate 
the whole country. 

We want men, not simply educated and cultured, 
but Christian men, trained and prepared to meet the 
enemy on his own ground and drive him from his forti- 
fications by force of truth. 

Mysticism, Spiritualism, Christian Science, the Holi- 
ness movement, the Higher Criticism, the tendency to 
Materialism, the lofty demands of Science, the ten- 
dency to substitute Education for Conversion or Re- 
generation, these are the issues of the day, and we need 
men to meet them, a consecrated, educated ministry, 
and this in part we lack. 

But we need not be discouraged, God hath never left 
Himself without a witness. He can bring light out of 

j6 History of French Broad Association. 

darkness and make our strength perfect in weakness. 
In times of Israel's calamity He raised up a Barak, a 
Sampson, a Gideon, an Elijah to lead His people to 
triumph over their foes. The history of the last two 
thousand years is an illustration of this great truth. 

In the course of human events there comes times of 
depression and discouragement, but as in the beginning 
the light sprang out of darkness, so shall it be always, 
because "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in 
the world ;" the truth shall triumph, righteousness shall 
spring out of the ground, and the whole world shall be 
filled with the knowledge of God as the waters cover 
the sea. 

The Sunday school work in the Association has been 
pretty well organized since 1870, but for the last twenty 
years there has been a Sunday School Convention 
holding annual sessions and doing a great amount of 
work which would not have been thought of without it. 

It is in the Sunday school, and in these Sunday school 
meetings that the capacity and worth of our lay breth- 
ren are brought out and utilized ; little would have been 
known of the capacity and worth of such brethren as 
J. C. Sams, W. P, Jervis, J. F. Tilson, Josiah Sams, 
L. J. Amnions and other brethren too numerous to 
mention, but for the advantages and opportunities af- 
forded by the Sunday school work. 

J. C. Sams, W. P. Jervis, J. F. Tilson, S. O. Deaver, 
Robert Wild and Sister Mary G. Hudgins are worthy 
of special mention ; they were leaders in the work and 
were especially devoted to it. The world to come only 
can unfold the amount of good which they have done. 

In the Sunday School Convention the discussions 
took a wider range than the Sunday school work, but 

History of French Broad Association. yy 

the questions of temperance, mission and general 
benevolence received a due share of attention. 

In the session of 1906 there were fifteen schools rep- 
resented, with an enrollment of 1,044 an d an average 
attendance of 782 ; these schools had paid for expenses 
$232, and for support of orphan work $63. These 
schools report Bible reading, fifty-three thousand, one 
hundred and two chapters, and other religious matter, 
twelve thousand, four hundred and eighty-four pages. 

The Minutes of the Convention are combined and 
published with the Minutes of the Association. 

The next session of the Association, which will be 
its Centennial, will be with Mars Hill Church, com- 
mencing on Wednesday, after the fourth Sunday in 
August, 1907; and the first day, Wednesday, will be 
devoted to Centennial exercises in which ex- Senator 
Judge Jeter C. Pritchard is expected to preside. 


Mars Hill College had its conception in the mind of 
Edward Carter, of Madison County, N. C, about the 
year 1853. 

Burnsville Academy had been built as a town school, 
but in putting the school into operation the Methodists 
managed to get control of it and established a Metho- 
dist school. 

Mr. Carter and T, W. Ray, who had married Car- 
ter's sister, sent their children to this school ; Ray a 
son and daughter, and Carter his oldest son, Melvin. 

During this term a revival meeting was held in con- 
nection with the school, and the Ray and Carter chil- 
dren professed religion. Mr. Ray's children joined the 
church, notwithstanding the family was Baptistic. 
This aroused Carter to thoughtfulness upon the sub- 
ject, and he soon reached the conclusion that if we al- 
low other denominations to educate our children that 
by a natural and moral sequence they will fall away 
to those who train them, and that their educational 
training will be at the expense of what we hold and 
believe to be vital New Testament Christianity. He 
decided, therefore, that we ought to educate our own 
children under the influence of our own religious con- 
victions and beliefs ; and to do this we must build 
schools. He unbosomed himself to Rev. Wm. Keith, 
who entered heartily into his views, and at his sugges- 
tion Mars Hill was located where it now stands. A 
subscription was circulated and soon contained the 
names which follow, each of whom agreed to pay one 

History of French Broad Association. 79 

hundred dollars, viz : Edward Carter, Rev. Wm. 
Keith, J. W. Anderson, T. W. Ray, T. S. Deaver, John 
Radford, Stephen Amnions, Rev. Jesse Amnions, Ed- 
ward Carter, of Ivy, G. D. Ray, Berry Duyck, Henry 
Edwards and Henry Ray, of Yancey County, N. C. 
Smaller sums were secured till the pledges amounted to 
about three thousand dollars. 

The building was let to contract, and was finished 
111 the spring of 1856. 

When settlement was made with the builders there 
was found to be a debt of eleven hundred dollars, and 
not a cent in the treasury. The debt was soon turned 
into a judgment against the President and Secretary 
of the Board of Trustees, T. W. Ray and J. W. Ander- 
son, and the Sheriff of Buncombe County came and 
levied on a fine young negro named Joe, and carried 
him to Asheville jail for safe-keeping till the day of 
sale; it was then that eleven of these faithful men put 
their heads together to meet the crisis. The writer 
well remembers how these men sat together in the east 
room of the college, with their faces in their hands, 
conferring together, and agreed to share the burden 
among them. E. Carter, T. W. Ray, J. W. Anderson, 
J. C. Sams, G. D. Ray, Berry Duyck, Stephen Amnions, 
Rev. Jesse Amnions, T. S. Deaver, E. Carter, of Ivy, 
and John Radford, though each of them had paid one 
hundred dollars, assumed the responsibility and paid 
the debt out of their own pockets ; a noble example of 
sacrifice for the public good. Too much credit can not 
be given those noble men, they builded better than they 

In September, 1856, the school was opened under 
the control of Prof. W. A. G. Brown, as President, as- 

80 History of French Broad Association. 

sisted by Prof. P. W. Anderson, both graduates of 
Mossy Creek Baptist College, in East Tennessee. 

The local patronage was very liberal, and there were 
quite a number of students from abroad. Among them 
was a young Mr. Gains from Greenville District, S. 
C, who was preparing for the ministry ; he was a noble 
young man, and all who knew him loved him, but his 
apparently brilliant career was cut short by death. 
Another was a young Mr. Hooper, from Jackson Co., 
N. C, he studied medicine and became an eminent 
physician; he is now in Newport, Tenn., the leading 
physician in the place. President Brown remained till 
the winter of 1857-8, and was succeeded by Rev. John 
B. Marsh, of Binghamton, N. Y. President Marsh 
was not a graduate, but he was a fine scholar, and by 
nature an educator; no hotch-potch work was done in 
his class-room, no student was permitted to pass a day 
without being put to the test ; students did not attend 
his school and pass whole days, much less weeks, with- 
out being questioned about their studies. Prof. Marsh 
was the best governor who ever had control of Mars 
Hill. President Marsh had charge of the school for 
two years, and left in February, 1861. 

The school, under his management, was a complete 
success; the patronage increased and the influence of 
the school was greatly widened. There were pupils 
from Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina. 

The Misses Porter, Matilda, and Harriet, of Bun- 
combe County, the Misses Sallie Champion, Rachel 
Beam, Clara Green, Nora Stroud, of Cleveland Co., 
and Kate Freeman, of Henderson County, are worthy 
of special mention. Of the young men I note Robert 
Freeman, Rev. T. J. Martin, who was from Georgia, 
Rev. Jer. Clark, Rev. Geo. Wilson. 

History of French Broad Association. 81 

John Amnions was a student of Prof. Marsh, being 
Marsh's senior both in years and in the ministry, but 
he sat at Mr. Marsh's feet and received from him all 
the literary training he ever had, and this after he was 
twenty-seven years old and had a wife and three chil- 
dren to care for and support. The oldest scholar in 
this school was Rev. J. W. Hooker, being about forty 
years of age. Hooker was a good student and took 
great delight in mental philosophy and logic. 

During Prof. Marsh's incumbency the Trustees had 
constructed a very neat teacher's house of four rooms 
capacity, and had under course of construction a board- 
ing house of sixteen rooms capacity, but these were all 
destroyed during the war, and the college building was 
much damaged, the windows being broken out, the 
seats burned, and the walls so injured that they looked 
like falling down under their own weight. The school 
had been suspended during the war, and at its close 
everything was in ruin. No effort was made to put 
the school in operation till the beginning of 1866, when 
Rev. Pinkney Rollins took charge. Rollins was a 
Union man, though he had kept his views concealed 
during the war, but now that the fighting was over he 
boldly proclaimed his views and preferences. The 
Rebels said he was a traitor, a wolf in sheep's clothing, 
and most of them refused to patronize him ; his school 
was a small affair. In April of this year President 
Rollins resigned, and Rev. John Ammons w 7 as elected 
President of the school. Ammons was not a scholar, 
according to the schools, but he w T as a man of solid 
learning, which he had gathered by his own efforts, 
without a teacher, necessity being his teacher. He was 


82 History of French Broad Association. 

a fine grammarian, the result of research and the read- 
ing of good authors ; he was also a good mathematician. 
Adding to this his_tact for teaching and his love for the 
work he made a splendid success. He was a good 
judge of human nature, and made it his study; no one 
perhaps better understood how to adapt his methods 
to the capacity of his pupils than he; the result was a 
complete triumph. 

The school was largely made up of young men that 
had passed through the war, some of them Rebels, 
others Federals ; and in a few cases bitterness had been 
engendered by reason of personal encounters, but he 
took a firm grasp on the situation and for two years 
managed and controlled the school without any 
trouble. No two years of Mars Hill has borne better 
fruit than 1866 and 1867. 

The young men attending the school ranged in age 
from sixteen to twenty-seven, and many of them had 
been soldiers in the war. I note L. W. Peek, Geo. 
Peek, Sam. Peek, L. C. Huff, John Pickens, John 
Jervis, Straleigh Ball, John Anderson, J. M. Ammons, 
J. G. Ammons, David Jackson, Alexander Lawson, 
Adolphus Deaver, E. W. Ray, W. C. Ray, Arsemas 
Carter, Bascom Carter, Lafayette Clark, Lafayette Pen- 
land, Thos. Luther, Lafayette Luther, J. H. Sams, J. 
R. Sams, J. F. Sams and Pinkney King. These men 
are most of them living and are among the most stable 
citizens and business men in the communities in which 
they live. 

J. G. Ammons, of Macon County, entered the min- 
istry and became a man of note and great usefulness. 
J. M. Ammons and J. F. Sams both entered the minis- 
try and made for themselves a good reputation. Thos. 

History of French Broad Association. 83 

Luther went to California, where he accumulated a 
splendid fortune; Pinkney King- went to Missouri, and 
is now a leading business man in St. Joseph. John 
Anderson, J. H. Sams, J. R. Sams, Arsemas Carter, 
L. C. Hurl, Geo. Peek, L. W. Peek, Alexander Law- 
son and Straleigh Ball are with us yet and need no 
encomiums from me. 

Prof. W. P. Jervis was in school only the first half 
year ; he has made a reputation as a teacher second to 
none in the country. 

Of the girls that attended the school during these 
two years honorable mention may be made of Dorcas 
Anderson, Dora Anderson, who was then but a girl, 
Narcissus Radford, Polly Radford, Manerva Radford, 
Thursday Radford, Trissie Radford, Marcena Cole, 
Xoretta Anderson, Brejetta Carter, Lodusky Carter, 
Sophrona Deaver, Matta Deaver, Harriet Deaver, Mary 
Sams, Nannie Sams, Alletha Green, Sue Green, Laura 
Clark and Rhoda Amnions. Some of these have gone 
whence they shall not return, but without a blemish 
on their character ; they had adorned the stations which 
they had assumed and quite a number of them stand at 
the head of the leading families of the country. 

I have been thus particular in noting these facts be- 
cause whatever Mars Hill had been, prior to its re- 
organization, under Prof. Huffham, has been relegated 
to the shades of perpetual darkness, as if the school 
had just sprung into existence; whereas, what it had 
accomplished before is of incomparably greater value 
than what it has accomplished since. These early 
years were years of difficulties, of trials, of struggles, 
of drawbacks ; they were pioneer years in which the 
ground was cleared and the foundation laid, which 

84 History of French Broad Association. 

made it possible for those that came after to accomplish 
anything of note. 

The work done from 1857 to 1868 will compare 
favorably with any work that has been done in subse- 
quent years. The teaching was real teaching, not a 
smattering ; it was a mental discipline, not a cramming ; 
and at the close of each school year the patrons were 
called together to witness the examinations of the 
classes and to see with their own eyes what progress 
their children had made. 

In January, 1868, Prof. Amnions resigned, and was 
succeeded by J. R. Sams, one of his school boys, in 
connection with Prof. Lewis, a scholarly old gentle- 
man, who continued two years, after which it w T as con- 
tinued some time by Prof. Sams and J. B. Lunsford. 

From 1873 to 1875 there was no school, and the 
property was used for a branch of the Oxford Orphan 

1876-78 Prof. J. B. Lunsford kept a private school. 

In 1878 the Trustees elected J. F. Tilson as Presi- 
dent of the school, and he had charge for two years. 
His school was principally composed of the children 
and youths of the surrounding country. In 1881 there 
was no school. 

In 1881 Prof. W. P. Jervis was elected President, 
and his administration continued till 1888. During 
this time there was a full attendance each term, not- 
withstanding the fact that Judson College was then in 
operation and was bidding for the Baptist patronage 
of this whole country. The students made good pro- 
gress in their studies, and many of them went forth to 
the duties of life without any other school advantages, 
making useful men and women. I mention the fol- 
lowing : 

History of French Broad Association. 85 

"George White, now a prosperous business man in 
some of the Western States ; J. K. Robertson, John 
Sprinkle, J. N. White, L. M. Sprinkle, a leading 
farmer in Madison County; L. A. Reese, Dr. I. N. 
McLean, one of our most prominent physicians ; Chas. 
E. Jervis, who is one of the ablest preachers in the 
Baptist denomination in this country; C. N, Jervis, now 
dead; W. B. Duck, who became principal of an institu- 
tion in East Tennessee ; Hon. Chas. B. Mashburn, Jno. 
W. Anderson, A. L. Bright, of McDowell County; J. 
D. Carter, a member of the present Board of Trustees ; 
Prof. M. C. Buckner, one of our leading teachers; 
Prof. J. J. Amnions, President of Macon High School. 
Of the young ladies I mention Miss Sue Huff, of Del 
Reo, Tenn., who became a leading teacher in her 
county; the Misses W. L. Runnion, L. B. Ramsay, C. 
C. Bruce, Mary Buckner, Mrs. J. W. Anderson and T. 
L. Brown. 

This list of noble young men and women is a proof 
that the labors of those who had charge of Mars Hill 
at this time were not spent in vain, and the world has 
been enriched by the lives of those who went forth from 
its halls. Annual addresses were delivered by Hon. 
John Stearnes, Rev. John Amnions, Dr. Jesse Wallen, 
Dr. B. B. Whittington, and Rev. J. W. Anderson." 

In 1889 there were two schools running at the same 
time, one under Prof. Z. V. Hunter, who had been 
elected President of the college, and the other under 
the management of Miss Helen McMasters, of Colum- 
bia, S. C. Hunter failed to give satisfaction, and after 
one year resigned ; Miss McMaster taught a good 
school and endeared herself to her pupils and won the 
love of all the people in the surrounding country. In 

86 History of French Broad Association. 

1890 Prof. T. M. Huff ham, a graduate of Wake Forest 
College, was elected President of the college; he from 
his better equipment, and because conditions demanded 
it, put the school upon a higher plane. He was aided 
for a time by Miss Helen McMasters, and later by 
John E. White, who won the affection of all his stu- 

I quote from Mars Hill College Quarterly: "Mr. 
Huff ham made a strong effort to bring everything to 
working under college plans. The school grew in 
standard of scholarship and in numbers, and for this 
reason there was a call for more room during his stay. 

The money was raised and a building as large as the 
former was reared in a short time. This was the first 
effort toward building since the war. Huffham had 
charge for three years, and the school did excellent 
work during his incumbency." He was a teacher in the 
truest sense. He gave his pupils plenty of work to do, 
and required them to do it; and woe unto the pupil 
that failed to bring a well-prepared lesson. He was 
also a good governor and laid on birch plentifully when 
it was needed ; some of the boys will never forget Huff- 
ham, and yet all loved him. He was followed by Prof. 
J. M. Cheek, 1893-4, aided by Rev. J. H. Yarborough. 
The school under their administration did very good 
work, but Cheek was anxious to finish his education, 
and resigned at a time when the school was in a very 
flourishing condition, and disappointed the expectations 
of the Trustees and all his friends. Prof. Yarborough 
was left in charge, but he was not physically able to 
do the work and therefore resigned. 

Prof. C. P. Sapp was elected to succeed him. Sapp 
was a capable teacher, but he paid little regard to re- 


History of French Broad Association. 87 

ligion or morals, and continued but one term. Rev. 
A. E. Boothe was in charge 1895-6; he was a great 
advertiser, he knew how to blow his own horn, and he 
blew it — long and loud. He started the project which 
resulted in the present girls' home; he also started the 
first paper ever run by the school." 

Booth was succeeded by Prof. M. A. Maury, who 
was a man of fine accomplishments. As a teacher he 
has never been surpassed by any one at Mars Hill. He 
remained but one year, the school not paying enough 
to justify him. The close of his work brings Mars Hill 
up to the beginning of the present administration." 
Mars Hill Quarterly, page 25. 

In 1897 Prof. R. L. Moore was elected President, 
and has continued now ten years. Under his wise 
management the school has grown and prospered till 
the enrollment amounts to between three and four hun- 
dred, and having drawn students from more than thirty 
counties in North Carolina and from the States of 
Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Virginia 
and New York. The work done during these ten years 
has been excellent, giving great satisfaction to both 
pupils and patrons, and the school has been widening 
in its influence and power. 

Rev. B. W. Spillman visited the school and became 
very much impressed with its possibilities. God had 
given him and his wife a little boy as the light of their 
home, but He, for wise purposes, took the little boy 
to the heavenly home, and left the bereaved parents to 
mourn his absence and their loss. He had some prop- 
erty which he intended, no doubt, to spend upon the 
child in educating and fitting him for life, but now that 
he was taken away he saw here an opportunity to build 

88 History of French Bvoad Association. 

him a name that should live through, it might be, a 
thousand generations. He bought property, which was 
but partially completed, bestowed the baby boy's name 
upon it and gave it to the school for a girl's boarding 
school home — "Raymond Pollock Spillman Home." 

This property has been enlarged and extended till 
now it will accommodate more than one hundred girls 
with all the equipments of a well-furnished home, and 
under the immediate care of the teacher and his wife. 
The old college has been remodelled, the two lower 
rooms and the hallway have been turned into a chapel, 
and a new college building is near completion, which 
will give double space for class-rooms and school pur- 
poses ; also a boys' club hall is being constructed which 
will accommodate from seventy-five to one hundred 
pupils. The curriculum of the school has been broad- 
ened and other departments have been added till now 
the course of study embraces a wide range. It had 
been found necessary to have a Primary and Intermedi- 
ate Department for the benefit of the surrounding 
country; but the village has now a first-class graded 
school which will provide for this contingency, so that 
the college is relieved of this burden which heretofore 
it had to carry as an encumbrance. 

The course of study embraces a thorough English 
course, viz : English Language and Literature, a Latin 
course, a course in Greek Language and Literature, a 
Mathematical course, Psychology, Physiology and Hy- 
giene, Composition and Punctuation, and a complete 
course in History. The student passing through the 
course of study at Mars Hill will be able to enter any 
of the higher institutions of learning, and will be ad- 
mitted to Wake Forest College without examination. 

History of French Broad Association. 89 

Added to the Literary course is an Art Department, 
which for some years has been doing excellent work, 
winning* meeds of praise from visitors, who were ex- 
cellent judges, at each annual Commencement. 

There is also a well-equipped Musical Department 
where the students receive instruction in that most re- 
fining of arts, the expression of thought and sentiment 
in song; this department has contributed much to the 
growth and enlargement of the school. 

There is also an Elocution Department, conducted 
by a competent instructor, where the pupils are taught 
how to express their thoughts in suitable verbage. It 
means much to be able to think and to arrange thought 
in a proper manner, but it also means much to be able 
to communicate one's thoughts by the most suitable 
words to the minds and understanding of others ; this 
elocution enables us to do. 

The college has a loan fund, which is used to aid 
young men preparing for the ministry of the gospel. 
This fund was provided through the kindness of Air. 
M. C. Treat, of Pennsylvania, who has been Alars Hill's 
greatest benefactor. Mr. Treat got it in mind to do 
something in aid of future generations, and as he 
thought on the matter he concluded that he could ac- 
complish more by helping to educate the rising min- 
istry than in any other way. The next thing to be 
done was to select a school where he might effect this 
purpose. In some way his mind was turned to Mars 
Hill, he came and inspected the school and being 
pleased with the prospect he gave the school two thou- 
sand dollars as a fund to be used for this purpose. 
About fifty young men have received help from this 

90 History of French Broad Association. 

Mras Hill is no longer an experiment, it has passed 
the crisis and is now established on a permanent basis, 
and gives promise of large results in the future; being 
in the country, away from the crowded city, it is free 
from those vices incident to those places where the 
people are crowded together and parents are relieved 
of the solicitude which they would feel under different 

Mars Hill is now about equal to any of our Southern 
colleges before the Civil War, and while the schools 
have grown Mars Hill has kept pace in the race, and 
promises at an early day to be able to meet the largest 
demand that can be made on an educational institution 
under the grade of a university. The work that Mars 
Hill has done is its own best recommendation. Its 
students who have gone out into the world are filling 
various stations in public service with honor to them- 
selves and satisfaction to their employers ; the school 
has sent out young men and young women equipped 
for teaching in the public schools, and many of them 
are engaged in this work in this and other States. Bas- 
com Huff is at Wilmington, in charge of a graded 
school ; Miss Bessie Sams is in charge of the Music 
Department at Mars Hill; Miss Cora Mashbanks is 
teacher in a graded school at Edenton; Miss Fuchia 
Marshbanks is at South Fork Institute; Miss Allie 
Rimer is at Clyde, N. C. ; Mr. Jeff Bruce is a pharma- 
cist at Marshall, N. C. ; Miss Hattie Edwards is teaching 
in North Wilkesboro; Edgar Thorne taught a graded 
school in Buncombe in 1906; J. J. Ammons resigned 
his work at Franklin, where he had great success, to 
take charge of the graded school at Morgan Hill in 
Buncombe County ; Miss Clara Huff is at Dothan, Ala., 

History of French Broad Association. 91 

as teacher in Art; Miss Mamie Briggs is teacher of 
Latin, English and General History at Broad Valley 
Institute; Guy V. Roberts is practicing law at Mar- 
shall, N. C. ; Mr. Bernard Ramsay is cashier of the 
French Broad Bank at Marshall, N. C. ; Miss Cornelia 
Bryan is in charge of the Art Department at Mars Hill ; 
Hon. Lewis J. Baily is the county's Representative in 
the lower house of the Legislature ; Dr. O. J. Corpening 
is practicing medicine at Granite Falls, N. C. ; Air. Sam 
Radford is practicing law at Asheville ; Mr. Kenneth 
Brown is in the street car service at Savannah, Ga. ; 
Mr. Henry K. Lewis is teaching in Idaho; Mr. John 
Bradley is Principal of Bellevue High School, at Cobbs, 
N. C. ; Mr. Coran Bland, one of the brainy young men 
who took his course at Mars Hill, is making himself 
a reputation teaching at Matthews, N. C. ; and T. L. 
Johnson is Principal of Claremont Graded School ; but 
I cannot name each several name, these are but speci- 
mens of the whole. 

Of the young ministers who attended Mars Hill I 
mention : Rev. E. C. Andrews is pastor at Swansboro, 
N. C. ; Rev. N. B. Phillips is pastor at Rock Gap, Va. ; 
Rev. J. C. Havnaer is pastor at Wallace, Idaho ; Rev. 
Jones Kirk is in charge of churches in Mecklenburg 
County; Rev. Z. J. Edge has been called to the First 
Baptist Church, Colfax, Wash. ; Rev. Charles Davis is 
teaching at Victor, Ark. ; and Rev. Lester Reddin is 
pastor of Riverside Baptist Church, Baltimore, Md. 

It will be seen from the above that Mars Hill has 
been largely supplying every department of labor with 
willing and well-equipped workers, and is thus blessing 
the world. 

Mars Hill is connected by telephone with Asheville, 

92 History of French Broad Association. 

Marshall and most of the surrounding country; there 
are daily mails from Asheville and Marshall. Drinking 
and kindred offenses are absolutely forbidden, and 
every effort is made to induce those who have formed 
the habit of using tobacco in any form to give it up. 
The town authorities co-operate with the school Trus- 
tees in keeping intoxicants from our borders, so that 
no community is freer from temptation to drink. Mars 
Hill Quarterly, June, 1907, page 35. 


4 'The building is only a few steps from the college 
buildings. It was given to the school that our young 
women might have the wholesome and refining influ- 
ence of a home — not a boarding house, not a club — but 
a real home-like Christian home. During the last ses- 
sion the number of those in the Home practically 
reached the limit of its capacity, eighty-nine coming 
under its influence. 

The Home is run on the co-operative plan, every 
girl doing one hour's work each day, for two reasons: 
One, that it creates a home-like feeling and establishes 
a genuine fellowship to have some duties in common 
to perform each day ; another, that the rates are thereby 
made lower, thus placing its advantages within the 
reach of those who otherwise could not come ; besides 
it gives useful training." Catalogue 1907, page 26. 


This building was secured through the kindness of 
Mr. M. C. Treat, of Pennsylvania, who first suggested 
it and gave one thousand dollars towards its construe- 

History of French Broad Association. 93 

tion. It will afford room for fifty students, besides 
reception-room, kitchen and dining-room. It will be 
heated by furnace. 


Through the liberality of Mr. M. C. Treat a loan 
fund of some four thousand dollars has been estab- 
lished to assist young men preparing for the work of 
the ministry. About fifty young men have already re- 
ceived help from this fund, and quite a number are al- 
ready doing splendid work in various parts of the 
United States, viz : Edge, in Washington ; Havnaer, 
in Idaho ; Phillips, in Virginia ; and Reddin, at Balti- 
more, Md. 


These consist of the original building, erected in 
1855, being 60x30 feet, two stories high; a second 
building of like dimensions was erected in 1890. The 
new college building, with a seating capacity of 800, 
containing five recitation and practice rooms, will soon 
be completed, and costing $4,500; and to these is soon 
to be added a larger building, at an estimated cost of 
six thousand dollars. The fund for the erection of this 
building has already been raised. 


"The first Literary Society was organized in 1858, 
with Rev. John Amnions, Maj. W. W. Rollins, Rev. 
J. W. Hooker, Capt. M. E. Carter, Emerson Carter, 
Rev. Pinkney Rollins, R. F. Whitesides, Rev. T. J. 
Martin, Capt. William Keith, and others as charter 

A constitution and by-laws were prepared, requiring 

94 History of French Broad Association. 

quarterly dues, and imposing fines for disorderly con- 
duct, etc. Rev. Pinkney Rollins was chosen the first 
President, and Rev. John Amnions first Critic. 

The society was first known as Philomathean Liter- 
ary Society, and the boys of '58 and J 6o were proud 
of the name and strove to reflect honor on the society 
which they represented." Miss Media Peek, in Mars 
Hill Quarterly, June, 1907, page 25. 

This society was not simply a debating club, but a 
training school ; its meetings being conducted with the 
utmost decorum. 

Questions of vital interest were discussed in the 
weekly meetings, and many a bout at dialectics took 
place during these two years; most of the young men 
in the school were members of the society, and derived 
much benefit from it. During the war the society fell 
to pieces, but was re-organized in 1866, during the ad- 
ministration of President Amnions, who took great 
pains to encourage the society in its work. 

About 1869 the society was divided and the old 
society changed its name to Mars Hill Literary Society, 
and the new society took the name of Columbian Liter- 
ary Society; but this society was soon absorbed by the 
Mars Hill Society. 

"In 1878 the society work passed into the hands of 
W. P. Jervis, J. R. Sams, Rev. W. T. Bradley, Judge 
J. C. Pritchard, J. F. Tilson, Dr. C. N. Willis, Dr. W. 
F. Woodward and others." Mars Hill Quarterly, June, 
1907, page 26. 

"These were splendid specimens of young American 
manhood ; they here took some of their first lessons in 
the development of the latent forces within them which 
was to expand into greatness. 

History of French Broad Association. 95 

The influence of this work has been felt from the 
lowliest hut of the Carolina mountains to the Senatorial 
halls at Washington ; but it stops not here, it is wafted 
on till it reaches the stormy coast of the Atlantic, and 
then, as if by some magic power, the influence of our 
members floats back across the continent. 

"In 1 881 the following workers appeared on the 
field : Rev. C. E. Jervis, C. N. Jervis, Dr. E. D. Peek, 
James A. Ramsay, Dr. L. N. McLean, Chas. Mash- 
burn, A. W. Arrowood, W. B. Duck, B. L. Sams, A. 
F. Sams, L. A. Briggs, Clifford Wallen, J. Judson 
Ammons, and others. 

The boys of J 8i were not second to any in purity of 
character and nobility of soul; they justly merited the 
reputation they bore of being the best historians and 
ablest debaters in the country." Mars Hill Quarterly, 
March, 1907, page 27. 

The society up to this time was very poorly supplied 
with literature, having no library. 

In 1890 the society's work was re-organized and 
three new societies were organized." There are now 
four, two for young men — Euthalean and Philoma- 
thean, and two for young women — Clio and Nonpareil. 
That a high grade of work is done in them all is proved 
by our Commencement exercises and by the excellent 
standing of our students at higher institutions. The 
society halls are provided with desks, chairs, lamps, 
tables, and other furnishings. Each hall has the 
nucleus of a select library of reference books and gen- 
eral literature, all secured through the tireless efforts 
of the members of the societies. The annual debates 
and entertainments are delightful and often come up to 
similar exercises of Commencement. 

96 History of French Broad Association. 

The societies select representatives for the closing 
exercises in debate, recitation, declamation, and oration, 
but these representatives must be approved by the 
Faculty before they are put on the program." Cata- 
logue iox>7^page 29. 

The progress of the school's work is very clearly in- 
dicated by the annual Commencement exercises, each 
succeeding being an improvement on the preceding. 
The last Commencement showed, in a marked degree, 
the breadth and scope of the work and the excellence 
of its character. 

The present faculty consists of R. L. Moore, Presi- 
dent and Prof. Mathematics ; Rev. F. A. Clark, Latin, 
Bible; Miss Phcebe W. Fuller, English, Science; Miss 
Cornelia Bryan, Art; Miss Bessie Sams, Music; Miss 
Susan B. White, Elocution; Miss Mary Harper, Sten- 
ography; Mrs. R. L. Moore, Matron Girls' Home. 

Prof. Clark is a scholarly man and a fine teacher, 
and fully consecrated to his work. 

Mars Hill is now fifty years old, and it is rather 
wonderful to contemplate the change that has come 
over the country ; the whole country has kept pace with 
the college in material improvements. Fifty years ago 
there was hardly a frame house in all the country, now 
the valleys are dotted with beautiful country homes, the 
abodes of happiness and intelligence, and contentment, 
and Mars Hill has largely contributed to this improved 
state of things. 


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